Tuna wars as French ‘target’ highest priced protected fish
Eustice says UK in ‘final stages’ of fishing quota negotiations
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Bluefin tuna is classified as “endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and is valued at £10,000 a ton. It is protected under the Channel Island’s wildlife laws but although controlled, fishing for it is not banned in France. A Jersey government spokesman said: “We are aware of reports that a commercial fishing vessel may have caught, or had on board, bluefin tuna while in Jersey waters.
“If true, this would be a breach of wildlife laws and may contravene licence conditions.”
The boat was reportedly seen on marine tracking software passing in and out of Jersey’s and Guernsey’s territorial waters.
Don Thompson, Jersey Fishermen’s Association president, said: “I am almost certain they were targeting tuna – there are not a lot of other types of fish there this time of year. He added: “These are boats that operate on free licences given to them by Jersey – that is what upsets me more than anything. We are unable to target or land any of this fish.
“The licences are being issued so they can do something they are not allowed to do in our waters.”
Don criticised a “catch and release” programme that aims to get an estimate of the number of the species locally.
He said the quota the appointed fishermen had been given was too low.
He added that the fish being caught by the French might help to paint a better picture of the species’ numbers.
Commercial or recreational vessels are banned from catching or targeting bluefin tuna within EU waters unless authorised to do so by a member state.
As it is a prohibited species for UK fishing boats, if caught then it must be returned to the sea alive and unharmed.
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