An enormous bluefin tuna weighing 600lbs (270kg) and measuring eight and a half feet long has become the largest caught off the coast of Ireland this year, but despite being worth millions of pounds, the monster was purposefully released.
The fish could have been worth €3m (£2.6m), but the crew weren’t out on the water to land tuna for commercial purposes. They are among several boats on Ireland’s south and west coasts taking part in a catch and release programme to help establish numbers of the dwindling stock of bluefin tuna.
David Edwards of Courtmacsherry-based West Cork Charters caught the fish three miles south of his base in southern Ireland, and tagged the animal before letting it go.
Speaking to local news outlet Cork News Live, Mr Edwards said: “They are much more common up in Donegal Bay where they follow the herring.
“They are more unusual down here but tend to be much bigger when they do show up.
“This is the first one caught south of Donegal Bay this year and it really was a big fish.”
Mr Edwards posted photographs of the magnificent fish on his Facebook page and thanked his crew including Darren O’Sullivan from Cork city and Dutch fisherman Henk Veldman.
A day earlier they had an even larger tuna hooked, but failed to bring the fish in after the reel failed.
Writing on Facebook about the successful catch, Mr Edwards said: “Finally!!! Got the first Bluefin Tuna to be caught, tagged and released on the South Coast of Ireland. 102 inches long is 5-600lb in weight and well done to my crew for the day, Darren O’Sullivan, Henk Veldman and John Dillon, great job lads.”
Responding to a comment asking if the size of the fish was due to “a global warming effect”, Mr Edwards replied: “More of a case of curbing the massive Japanese fleet that was targeting [them] a few years back.”
Bluefin tuna is a highly prized delicacy in Japan, where a single fish weighing 278kg – a similar size to the one Mr Edwards reeled in – was sold for 333.6 million yen (£2.5m) in January this year, with diners prepared to pay colossal sums to have it on their plates.
The fish is becoming increasingly rare chiefly due to overfishing, and is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
In 2010, Greenpeace added the bluefin tuna to its seafood red list.
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