There has been a report of a rare Atlantic Bluefin tuna in Manx territorial waters this week.
The sighting includes a video taken by one of two Northern Irish boats that were fishing for Herring. In the video the reported tuna can be seen feeding from escaped or lost catch alongside a seal.
The report has not been verified by DEFA, but officers have spoken with the skipper who estimated there were three or four tuna, ranging from 1.6 to 3 metres in length. They also confirmed details about the location and description of the animals.
Atlantic Bluefin tuna were previously classed as an endangered species due to overfishing however in early 2021, thanks to protection efforts, the International Union for the Conversation of Nature (ICUN) reduced their global classification to least concern although the last European survey in 2015 indicated the stock to be near threatened.
Bluefin tuna have not been recorded in Manx waters for many years and a DEFA statement the dept ‘would be interested to hear from anyone with information regarding previous sightings of tuna around the island’.
A Gov post said: ‘Any new sightings or footage should be reported to DEFA and the Thunnus UK website https://www.thunnusuk.org The department is always interested to hear of any unusual sightings.The species is migratory and have only been recorded returning to UK waters since 2013. Researchers have found that they begin to arrive around May and some stay as late as January, with peak sightings occurring between August and October.Nearly 1,000 unique observations were recorded between 2013 and 2018 by citizen scientists, scientists, fishers and eco-tour leaders in the UK.’
Currently fishermen are not permitted to target Tuna in Manx waters and there is no allowance for by-catch. Sightings can be reported via email to fisheriesenquiries.defa@gov.Im or telephone on 685857.