For a long time, Ireland has been recognised for its marine sport fishing. The vast variety and quality of our angling has given the country a reputation of which we are justly proud. Bluefin tuna catches by the commercial fleet targeting other species were first reported in the 1980's. Such reports became quite common on the west coast by the mid 1990's, though no fish fell to rod and line until 2000. The following year a new Irish and European record was set by Adrian Mulloy, fishing with skipper Michael Callaghan. On the 5th of October Adrian caught a fish of 968 lb near Rathlin O'Beirne Island. In 2002 and 2003 more Bluefin tuna were caught and one boat contributed to the "Tag a Giant" programme run by Stanford University and supported in Ireland by B.I.M.
While these were heady days for big game fishing in Ireland, it all happened against the backdrop of a global decline in a species that is now famously threatened by over-fishing.
In 2012 European regulations governing the harvesting of Bluefin tuna were changed as the species became even more endangered. Ireland does not have a Bluefin tuna quota, for this reason no allocation is available for sports or recreational fishing. Furthermore there is no facility in Irish fisheries regulations to permit angler caught Bluefin tuna to be landed into any Irish port and there is no provision for the sale of these fish. While IFI would love to see the development of a sustainable fishery for this wonderful species, given the continued significant decline of the species and the fragile nature of the stock the stock, the key imperative has to be one of conservation.