MMO issues alert after bluefin tuna caught off UK coast –

MMO issues alert after bluefin tuna caught off UK coast Published:  01 August, 2011

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) is calling for extra vigilance from the fishing industry to ensure they do not catch bluefin tuna.

The alert was issued following recent reports received by the MMO indicate that the endangered bluefin tuna has been sighted and caught off the coast of Dorset.

The UK supports the work of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) in its efforts to ensure the future sustainability of bluefin tuna and as such strongly discourages any targeted fishing for this species. Where catches are unavoidable, the tuna should be released alive and unharmed to the greatest extent possible.

The tuna was caught by an amateur fisherman from Cornwall off Portland who did not know that he had hooked an endangered species. The area is popular with spear fishermen, but it is rare for bluefins to come this far north. However, warmer seas have pushed a number species of fish, usually found further south, into waters around the British Coast. It is thought that this is the first time that a bluefin has been speared in this part of the world.

DWT’s Peter Tinsley of the Dorset Wildlife Trust said: “It would be irresponsible to intentionally kill one of these fish and it would be sad to see another killed in Dorset.” The Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority said fishermen should release any they catch.

The bluefin is the largest of the tuna family, and can grow to well over 12 feet in length. The fish is now the main focus of conservationists who want to see bluefin fishing banned virtually everywhere on the planet.