Tuna season opens tomorrow
The Bluefin tuna season in British Gibraltar territorial waters opens tomorrow, with a total allowable catch of 15.5 tonnes set by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Climate Change for 2019.
The season will remain open until October 14 or until the quota is reached.
Anglers require a Class K licence to fish for Bluefin tuna and the practice of ‘popping’, which has been known to cause serious injury to dolphins, will not be allowed inside the Dolphin Protection Zone approximately north of Rosia Bay.
This area forms part of the conservation measures intended to provide a refuge for dolphins that frequent Gibraltar waters.
“Anglers targeting Bluefin tuna are advised that casting any lines close to dolphins, which are protected species, may result in their fishing licenses being revoked,” the DEHCC said in a statement.
“Other fishing methods will continue to be allowed within the Dolphin Protection Zone.”
A Bluefin tuna tagging programme will also be implemented by the DEHCC.
Anglers are also required to report any recreational catches of billfish species, such as the Mediterranean Swordfish, which are locally classified as Species in Need of Strict Protection.
A dedicated office and landing point has been setup within the North Mole area at No. 1 Jetty.
Anglers are advised that all tuna and billfish catches must be reported and weighed at the landing point where vessels will be able to dock.
The landing point will be manned from 09:00 to 14:30 from Monday to Saturday.
Any catches landed from 14:30 to sunset must also be reported and weighed at the landing point by contacting the on-call landing point staff on mobile number 54020033.
This service will also be operational on Sundays and public holidays.
Landing point staff will assist anglers in completing the required catch form and should be contacted as soon as a fish is landed on board a vessel.
The minimum size of Bluefin tuna that can be caught is 30kg and 115cm fork length.
The minimum size for Mediterranean Swordfish is 90 cm excluding the sword length.
The DEHCC’s Environmental Protection & Research Unit (EPRU) will be working very closely with both the Royal Gibraltar Police and HM Customs during the open season in order to monitor vessel activity in BGTW and ensure that the requirements of the Tuna Preservation Regulations are adhered to.
As part of its duties, the EPRU will be emphasising the need to adhere to the Cetacean Protocol.
The objective of the Protocol is to protect dolphins and whales in BGTW.
Vessels are required to maintain a minimum distance of 60 metres from any dolphin or whale while navigating in BGTW.
The Protocol also establishes a 500 metre radius from the animals within which vessels must travel at a constant speed of no more than 4 knots or no greater than the slowest animal in the group.