Atlantic Blue fin tuna on sale - a first for Scotland
The fish was caught by Angus Campbell from Harris who has secured the only licence in Scotland to fish commercially for tuna as part of a UK-wide trial. Angus’s licence allows him to land three and a half tonnes of tuna per year.
Duncan Macinnes, secretary of the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association, who has for long highlighted the potential for an islands tuna fishery, said it was a very important moment which confirmed that there is a sustainable fishery to be developed.
Steak and loins from the 164-kilogram (360lb) blue fin tuna went on sale from yesterday (Wednesday) at Islander Shellfish in Stornoway, where it was generating significant interest.
Mr MacInnes said: “It really goes back to trials in 2014 when three tuna were tagged off Harris. The speed at which they moved was amazing. One was found 200 miles off the south-west of Ireland, another in the Bay of Biscay and the third in the Azores.
“I had seen a tuna canning factory in the Azores 20 years earlier, employing 100 people, and little did we know then that the blue fin tuna which was being landed was exactly the same stock that had passed through our own waters. Since then, it has been clear that there was potential for a carefully managed fishery in the Western Isles”.
Following “catch and release” trials since 2021 in which several island vessels participated, the UK Government was this year authorised by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas to use 39 tonnes of its quota to trial a new small-scale commercial fishery.
Ten licences were issued around the UK with Angus Campbell’s the only one in Scotland.
Duncan Macinnes said that he would now be pressing for a carefully managed expansion of the fishery. He said: “We would like to see an increased quota allocation for the UK and other vessels in this area having access to commercial licences. It should continue to be a rod and line fishery to ensure that stocks are managed sustainably”.
Speaking to the Gazette, Ronnie Scott, of Islander Seafood, said: “Hopefully this is the start of something new,. We can only handle so much here locally. Having said that, we’re starting to get a lot of interest and people are buying it.”