Archive information about our 2021 CHART Programme

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) has invited suitable charter vessels and skippers to request an application pack to participate in the CHART programme in English waters in 2021, operating in ICES areas 7.d, 7.e (excluding the territorial waters (12 nm) of the Channel Islands) and 7.f.  The programme has been developed in collaboration with representatives from the charter vessel and recreational fishing sector and will permit up to 15 charter boat skippers to take out paying customers to catch ABT, which would then be tagged and released by skippers.  Training in fishing, tagging, fish handling and data collection techniques will be provided to successful applicants by Cefas prior to the MMO awarding the necessary scientific licence to fish.  Cefas will work collaboratively with skippers, to provide observers throughout the programme to ensure that the operating standards of the programme are maintained, and that the programme delivers valuable research while giving the highest consideration for the welfare and conservation of ABT. 

In recent years, the number of sightings of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ABT) in UK waters has been increasing. This has led to a growing interest in the species from the science community, the recreational fishing community, and the commercial fishing sector.  Following consultation between these stakeholders that began in 2020, the first co-designed CatcH And Release Tagging (CHART) programme for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ABT) was piloted in English waters in 2021. This involved 15 charter fishing vessels working within a participatory science data collection project which ran for 13-weeks from August to November. Data were collected on effort, number of hookups and tagged ABT, behaviour and condition of the fish and length of the ABT. Additionally, data were also collected on the socio-economic impact of CHART through angler and skipper questionnaires.

The programme was funded by Defra and work was carried out under the governance of a project Steering Group, with representation from Cefas (as project lead), the MMO (licencing authority), Cornwall IFCA, Natural England, Bluefin tuna UK, and representation from the devolved administrations. 

The pilot year was very successful with over 700 ABT tagged and released and a huge amount of additional data generated. The infographic below displays the final tallies for the project.