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Bluefin season opens tomorrow, quota unchanged

Embargoed to 1900 Thursday July 20 Undated handout photo issued by Monterey Bay Aquarium of a bluefin tuna, as scientists have discovered that giant bluefin tuna possess a unique hydraulic control system that allows them to "fly" through the ocean like fighter jets. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday July 20, 2017. Lymphatic fluid pumped through internal channels causes their large sickle-shaped fins subtly to change shape, aiding manoeuvrability at high speed. See PA story SCIENCE Tuna. Photo credit should read: Randy Wilder/Monterey Bay Aquarium/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

The Bluefin tuna season in British Gibraltar territorial waters opens tomorrow, with a maximum quota of 15.5 tonnes set for this year.

The season for licensed sports anglers will remain open until the quota is filled or October 14, whichever comes first.

The quota, which is set in line with the recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas [ICCAT], remains unchanged from 2017.

Gibraltar is not a member of ICCAT but implements parallel regulations in order to cooperate in international conservation methods that have proved successful in recent years.

The Gibraltar Government is still assessing the possibility of implementing a number of additional measures to control certain techniques used to fish tuna, including so-called ‘popping’ using artificial lures.

While these techniques are effective when fishing for this prized species, they can have a harmful impact on other marine life including dolphins that use the Bay of Gibraltar as a nursery.

The government is considering restricting their use within certain areas of Gibraltar waters, but nothing has been finalised yet.

The government is also mulling steps to limit how much tuna can be landed by individual fishermen.

In 2017, the Department for the Environment and Climate Change issued 955 licences to fish Bluefin tuna, but only some 47 anglers actually landed fish and logged their catch with officials.

Last year about 70% of the entire quota of Atlantic Bluefin tuna caught in Gibraltar waters was landed by a small group of around 10 local anglers, according to government data.

They included three anglers who between them caught about a third of the full quota.

There is no suggestion that any rules were being broken, but officials have been reviewing the regulations to see if they need refining.

So far, however, no immediate changes are envisaged to limit the size of individual catches or introduce controls on the subsequent commercial sale of fish.

“This is still under discussion with the fishing working group and may be rolled out, but no decision has been taken yet,” a spokesman for DECC told the Chronicle yesterday.