Tuna -The case for a UK Recreational Live Release fishery.

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Back in the Autumn I fished off Penzance for blue shark and one of the highlights of the trip was to glimpse a huge bluefin tuna leap from the water a common sight in recent seasons. It is wonderful that these beautiful fish have returned to British waters and as an angler I would relish the opportunity to target these powerful fish. I have read several accounts regarding these fish and of the epic encounters had in the past when  anglers fished for these fish in the North Sea off Scarborough and other ports. In those far off days conservation was not considered and many of these fine fish were slaughtered for the glory. Todays anglers are far more enlightened and take every care to ensure that the fish are carefully released at the side of the boat after tagging to provide valuable data for scientific research.
I fear that the overexploitation of the tunas primary food fish will see these fine fish once again leave our shores. The sport fishing community that could be supported by angling would be a huge boost to the West Country economy. I would urge anglers to read the case for recreational live release below and send a letter to your MP as suggested.
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Introduction.

The case for a UK Recreational Live Release

fishery.

Since 2015, Atlantic Bluefin Tuna have appeared late each summer in substantial numbers all across the UK’s Western waters, from Dorset to the Shetlands.
A significant change in the spatial distribution of the species is underway with fish now regularly appearing in UK, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Irish waters each autumn.

It seems likely a combination of long term (20-40 year) climatic cycles, climate change, and the substantial recovery of the species since 2010 are factors in this change.

The most recent stock assessment from ICCATi, SCRS Advice 2020ii (9/2020) stated:

‘….important changes in the spatial dynamics of bluefin tuna may also have resulted from interactions between biological factors, environmental variations and a reduction in fishing effort.’
‘the available data do clearly indicate that the biomass…… has increased since the late 2000s, is high at present, and that there are no concerns that overfishing may be occurring under the current TAC…..’
‘The combination of size limits and the reduction of catch has certainly contributed to a rapid increase in the abundance of the stock’.

The Opportunity.

With the UK now outside of the EU, we have joined ICCAT as a sovereign member, and are able to chart our own path re the management of Atlantic Bluefin in UK waters.
Dozens of other ICCAT members operate recreational Bluefin fisheries, including our non quota holding neighbours such as Ireland, Denmark and Sweden, who have for several years operated large scale angler led CatcH And Release Tagging (‘CHART’) programs. But not the UK.

We believe there are strong arguments to establish a large-scale, Recreational Live Release fishery in UK waters from 2021. Such a fishery would be tightly regulated and licensed as per ICCAT requirements.
It would allow both valuable scientific research through associated data recording and tagging, and bring great socio-economic benefits to UK Coastal Communities.

By engaging anglers and local communities in the management of this species it will help secure the future of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna in UK waters.

Scientific Value.
Worldwide, recreational fisheries for Atlantic Bluefin are the source of much of the data and scientific study that informs crucial management decisions.
The Irish and Scandinavian ‘CHART’ programs have tagged and released over a thousand Bluefin in the last two years, providing valuable data to fisheries managers. A combination of hi tech ‘Satellite tags’ and large scale ‘spaghetti tagging’ have been favoured and supported by ICCAT and conservation bodies such as the WWF.

The UK has limited itself to a Satellite Tag program applying c55 tags at a cost of £1,000,000, providing no socio economic benefits to coastal communities.
A larger scale recreational fishery would be able to supplement the information they have obtained with much additional data via a parallel research program.

Socio-Economic Benefits.

Recreational Bluefin Tuna fisheries have been shown to generate significant economic benefits for the coastal communities hosting the fishing fleets.
Live release fisheries in particular have been shown to be the optimal use of Bluefin resource, generating multiples of revenue per tonne that of commercial harvesting.

The ‘Giant’ Atlantic Bluefin Tuna seasonally inhabiting UK waters present a particularly attractive angling challenge. Anglers will travel great distances (globally) and spend significant sums to catch, photograph and release ‘the catch of a lifetime’.

Here are two examples that we can highlight to illustrate the potential economic benefits of such recreational fisheries .

Canada.

A substantial Bluefin Tuna recreational live-release fishery was established in the waters off Nova Scotia from 2009. It was allocated a portion of Canada’s Quota for Bluefin as ‘mortality quota’ for an exclusively Live Release recreational fishery.

An independent study of this fishery in 2012 ‘Reeling in Revenue’iii concluded:

‘live release bluefin have the potential to generate up to six times more revenue on a per tonne basis than a commercially caught bluefin’.

The study estimated that recreational charter revenues generated Can$100,000/tonne versus the dockside value from commercial fishermen of Can$17,000/tonne.
This was before additional revenue generation related to the fishery was assessed, i.e. visiting angler expenditure on hotels, restaurants, fuel, bait, tackle etc.

In 2014 in a CBC news interview Bluefin charter boat captain Robert Boyd stated:

‘With the charter industry, right now we’re employed for six to seven weeks every fall, instead of just one or two days (harvesting their commercial quota).
The economic spin offs to that are just as valuable to the surrounding community as much as they are to us…It’s different from commercial fishing. It’s more of a tourism business than a fishing business…’

Live release fisheries do this via leveraging quota that must be set against possible mortalities, (that are fraction of, by definition, a 100% rate commercial fishery).

Multiple studies (Stokesbury et 2011 for example iv) show that this can be kept to around 3-5%. Canada incorporates a 3.6% mortality assumption in its fishery.

Applying a 5% mortality rate leverages quota into 20 ‘catch and release events’ for every one estimated post release mortality. Assuming one ‘hookup’ per day, that is 20 Charter Vessel bookings generating circa £15,000 even before the ‘tourism dividend’ from visiting anglers is factored in. In contrast, that one Bluefin dead on the dockside commercially is worth around £2-3,000v. The substantial revenue benefit is very clear.

United States.

Another illustration of the value of recreational Bluefin fisheries comes from the US, the town of Hatteras, North Carolina.
A winter Bluefin fishery was discovered in 1994 as changes in the Gulf Stream brought the Tuna closer inshore. (Comparable to the 2016 event in UK waters?)

The US Fisheries authorities moved to support this fishery via transferring quota and licensing opportunities to Hatteras. Anglers flocked to this new fishery and to this day Hatteras’ winter Bluefin Tuna fishery is a mecca for anglers from all over the world.

Just three years later in 1997 a comprehensive study by the University of Texasvi concluded that this fishery was generating in the order of $5million per year for the community of Hatteras. The report detailed how widespread these benefits were. Numerous businesses and hundreds of employees in the hospitality and tourism sector were direct beneficiaries of this new fishery.

Securing their future.

Engaging local communities in such science has been shown to raise awareness and support for conservation minded policies towards valuable yet vulnerable species. ‘Community science’ bears real dividends in shifting attitudes.

There is evidence worldwide of the economic benefits recreational angling can bring to coastal communities. The leveraging of small amounts of quota in live release fisheries for species such as Bluefin is a very effective use of valuable and often limited quota.
When they also deliver real, measurable socio-economic benefits to communities the support for sustainable long-term management strategies is boosted significantly.

In delivering both valuable scientific and significant socio-economic benefits for stakeholders such fisheries help ensure the future health of these species.

The UK has an opportunity to join the dozens of ICCAT members operating recreational fisheries of a stock that has recovered significantly in the last ten years. Significantly, in establishing an exclusively Live release, well regulated fishery with an important parallel research program, it can set a new world leading benchmark in the optimal, sustainable management of an iconic, valuable species.
i The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, the Global management body for the species.

ii https://www.iccat.int/Documents/SCRS/SCRS_2020_Advice_ENG.pdf
iii https://ecologyaction.ca/issue-area/reeling-revenue
iv https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320711002928
v Based upon data from Pew Charitable Trust, Norwegian Pisheries authority, and Canada’s Dept of Fisheries and Oceans vi https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1577/1548-8675(2002)022%3C0165:TEIOTR%3E2.0.CO;2

Please lobby your MP by sending him this letter and report to increase the scope of tuna fishing in the UK helping skippers and local communities

Today’s date                                     
 
Re: Recreational Sea Angler Live Release Bluefin Fishery
 
Dear your local MP
 
I am recreational sea angler who fishes regularly with several skippers out of Looe
 
My skipper has been keeping me up to date with the progress of the CHART2021 discussions which I understand have been very positive apart from the scale being proposed.
 
The small scale being suggested concerns me as if we don’t help charter boats then not all of them will survive which will then impact the pubs, cafes, restaurants and accommodation which we all enjoy when we go fishing.
 
I have also learned that the UK now have Bluefin quota which means that a Recreational Sea Angling Live Release Fishery for Bluefin is now an option.
 
A RSA Live Release Fishery is the core objective of Bluefin Tuna UK and the Angling Trust and as a recreational sea angler, it is something which I fully support. For this to happen the UK Government need to advise ICCAT that they intend to introduce this fishery before 15th February this year.
 
I consider the charter skippers and the owners of the pubs, cafes etc. which I use when I go fishing as friends and during lockdown I have remained in contact with them. All of them are struggling financially due to Covid 19 and are in desperate need of new opportunities for their businesses.
 
If CHART were scaled up that would help but the better solution by far is to introduce a Recreational Sea Angling Live Release Fishery which would deliver a huge economic boost to those coastal economies. Once international travel is allowed again a fishery like this would attract anglers from other countries as well.
 
I am aware that many MP’s have been approached by a wide group of people and I would like to add my voice to theirs and ask that you lobby the Fisheries Minister to at the very least significantly increase the sale of CHART 2021. However, if the Government are truly committed to coastal communities and the levelling up agenda we hear so often, then they should take the actions necessary to introduce a Recreational Sea Angling Live Release Fishery and begin by advising ICCAT before the 15th February 2021 that they wish to pursue this objective and I would ask that you lobby the Minister for this outcome.
 
Thank you in anticipation of your support
 
Your name and address
Please lobby your MP by sending him this letter and report to increase the scope of tuna fishing in the UK helping skippers and local communities

Today’s date                                     
 
Re: Recreational Sea Angler Live Release Bluefin Fishery
 
Dear your local MP
 
I am recreational sea angler who fishes regularly with several skippers out of Looe
 
My skipper has been keeping me up to date with the progress of the CHART2021 discussions which I understand have been very positive apart from the scale being proposed.
 
The small scale being suggested concerns me as if we don’t help charter boats then not all of them will survive which will then impact the pubs, cafes, restaurants and accommodation which we all enjoy when we go fishing.
 
I have also learned that the UK now have Bluefin quota which means that a Recreational Sea Angling Live Release Fishery for Bluefin is now an option.
 
A RSA Live Release Fishery is the core objective of Bluefin Tuna UK and the Angling Trust and as a recreational sea angler, it is something which I fully support. For this to happen the UK Government need to advise ICCAT that they intend to introduce this fishery before 15th February this year.
 
I consider the charter skippers and the owners of the pubs, cafes etc. which I use when I go fishing as friends and during lockdown I have remained in contact with them. All of them are struggling financially due to Covid 19 and are in desperate need of new opportunities for their businesses.
 
If CHART were scaled up that would help but the better solution by far is to introduce a Recreational Sea Angling Live Release Fishery which would deliver a huge economic boost to those coastal economies. Once international travel is allowed again a fishery like this would attract anglers from other countries as well.
 
I am aware that many MP’s have been approached by a wide group of people and I would like to add my voice to theirs and ask that you lobby the Fisheries Minister to at the very least significantly increase the sale of CHART 2021. However, if the Government are truly committed to coastal communities and the levelling up agenda we hear so often, then they should take the actions necessary to introduce a Recreational Sea Angling Live Release Fishery and begin by advising ICCAT before the 15th February 2021 that they wish to pursue this objective and I would ask that you lobby the Minister for this outcome.
 
Thank you in anticipation of your support
 
Your name and address

Watersmeet Publications – An Opportunity for budding authors

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Well known angling book publisher and conservatists River Reads, received very welcome news going into 2021.

Owners Keith & Sandy Armishaw of Great Torrington, responsible for high quality publications of works by authors such as Fred J Taylor, Chris Yates, Fred Buller, Charles Inniss, Des Taylor and River Monsters own Jeremy Wade (to name a few), announced that son Lee will be pursuing his life-long passion for all things fishing, by joining forces with the Devon based company.

In his fledgling company ‘Watersmeet Publications’, Lee will be working with River Reads and Angling Heritage to continue with more quality book productions that will help to preserve the contributions of some of anglings best known names.

With work already underway on further books, ‘Watersmeet Publications’ will combine the experience of the renowned publishing firm, with Lee’s passion for angling and knowledge of digital tools to develop the business, securing the long term future of the company and providing an excellent platform to produce more quality works.

If you haven’t already, then following River Reads & Watermeet Publicatons on facebook and Instagram is well worth doing to check for news, upcoming (and existing productions) and angling exploits.

The quote ‘’There is a book in everybody’’ rings true and whether you are a budding or established author, if you are considering publishing your book, then get in touch and explore what options are available to you.

A Sunday morning brace of trout

It was good to be beside the calm waters of my local trout fishery as a weak wintry sun peeped through the morning clouds. I threaded a five weight floater line through the rings relishing a quiet couple of hours searching the water. I tied a buoyant fly from barbless flies https://www.barbless-flies.co.uk/products/stillwater-dinkhamer-selection  and suspended a couple of small nymphs beneath it. I stretched the line out across the water retrieving at a slow pace focussing on the floating fly. On the second cast the fly disappeared and I tightened and felt the pleasing resistance of a rainbow trout.

I spent the next half an hour enjoying the motions of fly fishing. The swish off the rod and pleasing settling down of flies and line one upon the calm water. With no further action I pondered upon the fact that a trout so often falls on the first couple of casts at the water. It is as if the catching of that first fish transmits a warning to the lakes residents?

A change of tactics is called for and I tie on an olive damsel removing the buoyant Dinkhammer and cast out allowing the bead headed lure to sink deeper into the lake. After a couple of casts the line draws tight and a vividly spotted full tailed brown trout is brought protesting to the net.

With a brace of trout secured its time to stroll back along the lakeside taking note of the daffodils pushing forth in a promise of the coming spring.

I return home for Sunday dinner and still have time for a walk around the village on a quiet winters day with thoughts of better times ahead.

2020 Bideford and District Angling Club Coarse Section Match Report

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An excellent report as always on Bideford Angling Clubs Match Season from Martin Turner.
https://www.northdevonanglingnews.co.uk/2020/05/31/bideford-angling-club/
2020 Bideford and District Angling Club Coarse Section Match Secretary Report :
As I sit here another 1500 deaths in the UK has been announced on the news, I can only reflect on how lucky we were to have been able to have fished some of our scheduled events:
Our calendar opened with a trip to Morchard Road , this small venue rarely fails to produce and Keith Copland took the honours on a cold windswept day with an impressive 50lb net. February’s comp was held at Millpark , I almost cancelled as we were in the eye of storm “Ciara” ,the normally prolific water fished very hard in the difficult conditions , John Lisle mastered it on the day with a nice net of chub and carp. The March event went ahead on Wooda Lakes ,although we didn’t know at the time, we were staring down the barrels of a Covid 19 lockdown. My 55lb net was enough for victory , our youngest competitor Thomas Scott came home second.
Our worst fears were confirmed shortly after this and we didnt meet up again until the beginning of June, I tentatively arranged an evening sweepstake on Tarka , 13 turned up and David Bailey showed us how to do it with 20lb in the 3 hours. Aware that it was possible to fish matches in a safe manner I decided to run the Evening Series. Keith Copland led early stages with Tyler Scott close behind , Matt Cross won the second with David Bailey winning the third with 20lb from peg 19. Peg 2 produced the winner in match 4 for Martin Hawker, although Keith Mountjoy’s ,soft pellet approach, second place saw him begin to take command of the league at the halfway stage. Britney Shears won the next 2, almost ‘full house ‘ evening comps . Richard Jefferies , ‘yank and bank’ BDAC pest control officer put 18lb on the scales to win number 7. The final match in the foreshortened series included the pairs match, was fished on July 28th,we almost ran out of daylight but the conclusion was a victory in the pairs for Thomas Scott and Kev Shears with a combined total of 27lb 11oz .
My second overall on the night ensured victory in the overall standings 73 points to Keith Mountjoy 60 ,Kev Shears 56.
The Wednesday Evening Series again proved very popular with an average of 20 members turning up per match, the average catch 6.7 lb compared to 3.1 lb in 2019 , a great improvement , testament to the fantastic efforts of our fishery management team.
Our Monthly matches restarted in June on Tarka, Keith Mountjoy scored a victory with 20lb 10oz , young member Tyler Scott was a close second with 19lb 3oz. The July and August Competition saw veteran Colin Cherrington banished the Tarka jinx with 30lb nets to win both.
John West’s men from Plymouth Club came up for a rescheduled one leg interclub match, It was agreed that ,as we weren’t able to accommodate them on Tarka ,we would challenge them on Stuart Sharpe’s Wooda Lakes .The prolific fishery didn’t disappoint and BDAC ran out convincing winners 407lb to PDCAC 203lb . Bidefords Matt Cross showed us his catch and release technique with an empty 3rdkeepnet allowing winner Brintey to sneak in with 74lb off lake 1 , Captain John was top scorer for Plymouth with 67lb .
September’s comp back on Tarka was attended by 23 anglers , Kev Shears prevented Colin from the hat-trick but Mr Cherrington won the October match which proved to be our last match of 2020, with another 30lb net, this time off peg 12.
The final points in the 8 match series : Martin Turner 74 Steve Bailey and Colin Cherrington 47 Richard Jefferies 46 .
Our thanks must again go to all those people who made it possible for us to enjoy our sport .
I hope you are all staying safe and lets hope we can get together again very soon , wishing you all a Happy New Year.
Martin , Match Secretary.

FISHING IN LOCKDOWN?

I have had several anglers message me regarding fishing in lockdown and what the position is. The Angling Trust have successfully lobbied Government resulting in angling being allowed within the lockdown guidelines. See updated guidelines below from the Angling Trust.

Lockdown fishing: updated guidelines published

The problem with the guidelines is that it leaves a certain amount of freedom to interpret for example what is local. Local is within your town or village, though you can drive a short distance to access an open space. I have reluctantly decided to hang up my rods until after lockdown as I live ten miles from the coast. Could I justify travelling ten miles to go fishing? Is it essential travel? Everyones circumstances are of course different and angling could be a lifeline to many giving valuable exercise for both body and soul. The sooner we can get on top of this COVID nightmare the better and staying home for a few weeks is surely worth the long term result.

In the mean time I will be enjoying a couple of books I received at Christmas that will hopefully inspire me in the coming spring and summer.

I will also be sorting through my fishing gear putting new hooks on old lures, tying rigs and having a general tidy. Might even stock up on a few flies, lures and bits and pieces. In the mean time I will try and write a few features on North Devon Angling plus report on any catches reported to me from those fortunate enough to live close to  fish filled waters.

FISHING HUTS

There was an old hut on the pier at Ilfracombe where I used to fish along with many local anglers. I had forgotten all about the hut until joining a discussion reminiscing about fishing from the old pier that was demolished close to twenty years ago. The pier could be fished at all states of the tide and being high above the water was a safe place even during winter storms.

During those cold winter nights as the waves pounded against the pier’s concrete pillars, the hut gave  a place to shelter. Huddled within anglers would pour a hot drink and enjoy a smoke as they glanced frequently at their rods resting upon the ramparts. The hut and its surroundings had a strange aroma of stale bait and urine. Despite this there was a certain comfort in this old hut. The camaraderie of anglers enduring the worst of the weather whilst sharing that dream of big fish and embellishing stories of battles won and lost over past seasons.

The talk of the old hut on the pier stimulated me to remember other fishing huts and lodges I had visited over a lifetime of angling adventures. At Stafford Moor trout fishery during the late 1970’s I recall the large fishing lodge. Its stark breeze blocked walls and large windows that allowed in plenty of light. Old leather chairs and sofas encircled a scruffy old wooden coffee table that was strewn with old copies of Trout and Salmon magazines. During the cold days of early spring the lodge gave a welcome respite from the cold winds that swept across the windswept moorland. Back then many trout fishers still tended to fit a certain stereo type of upper class gentlemen who talked in that distinctly old English way. As a young long haired youth, I soon learnt that fishing is a great leveller with the shared interest melting any barriers of class or age.

On North Devon’s rivers there are many splendid fishing huts my favourite being an old Tudor styled hut that sits beside the River Torridge at Little Warham. The hut is situated well above the flood line and looks out over the ever flowing river. It is not grand but has a certain timeless charm and has undoubtedly been a place of refuge for anglers over generations and I can imagine the Majors and Generals contemplating the complexities of wartime as they took a break from the pursuit of the once prolific salmon. The tranquillity and perpetuity of the ever flowing stream must have brought solace in those troubled times.

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On the River Test in Hampshire I joined two friends for a days fishing from its manicured banks. The immaculately decorated hut was plush and clean in contrast to that grimy old hut on the pier. Further up river we came across an old wooden shelter with an old bench on which were carved the words, “ Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits”.

On the Lower reaches of the River Taw there are the remains of the Barnstaple & District Angling Clubs hut. Its corrugated sides and roof were painted green. Today it is in a sad state of decay and most of the club anglers who gathered there have long since departed. The rod rack remains empty and ivy and brambles have encroached taking back the old hut. The river still flows majestically past through the seasons though sadly the once prolific salmon are few and far between. There is something about angling huts that is hard to put into words.

FISHING AS PERMITTED – STATEMENT FROM THE ANGLING TRUST

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The Angling Trust have in my opinion done a sterling job in getting angling allowed as legitimate exercise within the present lockdown. As always there are going to be contentiuos areas of debate as there is within the Government guidance. Angling itself is a relatively safe pastime in relation to COVID so going fishing in itself is not an issue in my view. The travel to and from is probably the most risky exercise as is driving on our roads at anytime. I personally will try and be discreet with my fishing as I am aware that there are others whose activities have been taken away will feel deprived.
   I suggest that anglers check before visiting any fishery to ensure they are open for business.
STATEMENT FROM THE ANGLING TRUST
Good morning everyone
The Government have now formally responded to the representations made by the Angling Trust. We have promoted the huge benefits of fishing on individual health and wellbeing and have been able to present a case to which the Government have listened. On this basis I am pleased to announce that fishing will be permitted during the third national lockdown.
The DCMS Sports Team confirmed the following;
“fishing is allowed as exercise so long as participants adhere to the rules on staying local, gathering limits, social distancing and limiting the time spent outdoors”
This has also been confirmed by DEFRA;
“Cabinet Office have now officially confirmed that angling / fishing (incl. sea fishing off private boats, water sports) can be considered exercise and are hence permitted.”
We have worked extremely hard to reach this position and we as anglers have a duty to abide by the strict conditions under which fishing is once again permitted. With infection rates and death tolls rising we must stick to the Government’s rules and ensure that angling remains part of the solution and does not cause problems.
Please bear in mind these key points which will be reflected in the new Angling Trust guidelines which we will publish shortly:
– This is a strictly limited resumption of LOCAL fishing and very different to how we have been allowed to operate since May
– We are in a National Lockdown and this must be respected. The law requires a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave your home or penalties will apply.
– The government has recognised that fishing can be seen as exercise, which is expressly permitted under the lockdown rules, although outdoor recreation is not.
– Organised sporting gatherings are prohibited so no match fishing.
– The exercise is limited to once a day so no overnight fishing whatsoever.
– To remain within the law you should follow the government’s guidance, and only fish locally within the district where you live. If you have no local fishing available then you will have to take your daily exercise in other ways.
We are once again able to enjoy the sport we love at a time when many others can not and we must ensure that every angler adheres to the rules.
I would ask all anglers who are not members to join the Angling Trust and give us your support. We have worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome and that is only possible thanks to the support of our new and existing members. I would ask all anglers who value their ability to go fishing to make the same commitment as your fellow anglers have and join the Angling Trust. We are stronger together!
Membership – Angling Trust https://anglingtrust.net/membership/
Stay safe and very best fishes
Jamie Cook
CEO – Angling Trust