The Tuna Chart Programme is a scientific data gathering initiative carried out under the rules of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT). Its purpose is the collection of high quality data with good temporal and spatial coverage, to contribute to ICCAT’s scientific knowledge and management of the species. The programme operates on a strictly catch, tag and release basis and the platform used for the data collection is sea angling vessels. The programme is designed to avoid mortalities and I am happy to confirm that over 200 fish were tagged during 2019 and no mortalities occurred.
The Programme is jointly overseen by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, my Department, Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the Marine Institute and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA). The programme facilitates scientific observers on board authorised vessels.
This Group agreed a pilot programme in 2019 in which 15 vessels were authorised to participate. The programme is also being operated in 2020 for which the number of authorised vessels increased to 23. The programme is subject to ICCAT rules and consent. It is reviewed annually in the context of seeking continued ICCAT consent.
An authorisation for any vessel applies only for the research period in the relevant year. A new application process is required for each year and there is no automatic roll-over for existing authorised vessels. Therefore any new application process will continue to be open to vessels not currently authorised and all applications are assessed against agreed qualifying criteria published in advance.