CatcH And Release Tag (CHART) Scientific Data Collection Programme for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (BFT)

Tuna in the sea

In recent years, the number of sightings of Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (BFT) in UK waters has been increasing. This has led to a growing interest in the species from the science community, the recreational fishing community, and the commercial fishing sector.  Following consultation between these stakeholders that began in 2020, the first co-designed CatcH And Release Tagging (CHART) programme for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (BFT) was piloted in English waters in 2021. For more information on this pilot year please click here.

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) has invited suitable charter vessels and skippers to request an application pack to participate in the CHART programme in English waters in 2022, operating in ICES areas 4.c, 7.d, 7.e (excluding the territorial waters (12 nm) of the Channel Islands) 7.f and 7.h.  The programme has been developed in collaboration with representatives from the charter vessel and recreational fishing sector and will permit up to 25 charter boat skippers to take out paying customers to catch BFT, which would then be tagged and released by skippers.  Training in fishing, tagging, fish handling and data collection techniques will be provided to successful applicants by Cefas prior to the MMO awarding the necessary scientific licence to fish.  Cefas will work collaboratively with skippers, to provide observers throughout the programme to ensure that the operating standards of the programme are maintained and that the programme delivers valuable research while giving the highest consideration for the welfare and conservation of BFT.

The Cefas CHART Team are pleased to be able to announce the 25 vessels which have been selected to participate in CHART for 2022, subject to all training and boat safety measures being met.  If you are a recreational angler and would like to be a part of CHART, we would encourage you to book a trip with one of the companies listed below, as they will be allowed to legally fish for Atlantic Bluefin tuna. The fishing season will run between 15 August and 11 December 2022 and the results in an infographic will be posted here weekly.


If you have any questions, please contact us on




Web Address

Steve George


Dan Hawkins

Reel Deal

Sam Narbett


Kevin Lavis


Aaron Lidstone

Happy Days

Steve Porter

True Blue

Jerry Rogers


Tom Walker

Manta Ray

Stuart Newell

Harvest Moon

Gary Thomas


Seriola Sport Fishing Cornwall - Home (

Murray Collins

Swallow II

Mark Jury

Fortuna II

Nigel Hodge

Seawatch I

Chris Gill

Cutty Shark

Rob Thompson

Eloise of Ladram

Ross Parham

Spot On!

John (Geoff) Long


David Rogers

Wet Wheels South West

Wetwheels South West | Wetwheels Foundation

Steve Sweet 

Amaretto IV Amaretto Sport Fishing | Charter Fishing Boat Trips in Lyme Regis Dorset

Chris Roberts


Owen Mallia

Outlaw of Dartmouth

Anthony Hills


Andy Bridson

Patricia Rose

Daniel Margetts


Pete Atkinson





May 23rd – Applications Open

June 6th 17:00 BST - Applications Close

June 17th – Feedback provided to all applicants

July (Dates TBC) – training workshops for successful applicants

August 15th – Indicative fishing licence start date

December 11th – Proposed fishing licence end date


Evaluation and Reporting

This report has been produced by Defra and reviewed by the Defra analytical team

CHART 2021 Project Review Report


What is CHART and how would a recreational scientific catch tag and release or CHART programme work in 2022?  

CHART is the acronym for a recreational scientific ‘CatcH And Release Tagging programme’ for Atlantic bluefin tuna (hereafter BFT).  During 2021 CHART operated a successful pilot programme of 15 vessels, where over 700 BFT were tagged and released.  Charter skippers apply to join the programme and those selected will be trained in catching, tagging and data recording techniques so that they can contribute to BFT research, while also protecting BFT welfare. Once trained, skippers will secure an MMO scientific licence for the duration of the programme in 2022, allowing them to take paying customers out on BFT fishing trips. All activities will be closely monitored by Cefas to ensure that the benefits of the programme are maximised, and that risks to BFT welfare and conservation are minimised. 

When will CHART happen? 

Applications for the CHART programme opened on 23rd May 2022 and will close on 6th June at 17:00 BST.  The anticipated dates for the fishing season will be from 15th August to 11th December inclusive.

Who decides which charter vessels are allowed to join this project?  

Cefas developed a detailed application process and criteria to select charter boat skippers as participants in the programme. The process and criteria were designed and agreed in collaboration with representatives from angling and charter fishing groups.

How many vessels will participate in the programme?  

During 2022 the MMO will license up to 25 vessels for this programme.

Who is funding this project?  

The 2022 CHART programme is being funded by Defra. Additional opportunities for partnership funding are being explored.

Will the successful applicants be paid to take part? 

The funding for the programme is being used to set up, monitor and evaluate the programme, but not to pay the successful applicants. Once trained and licenced, skippers will be able to take paying recreational anglers out to catch BFT (although only the trained skipper or crew will then tag and release the fish).

Will there be any costs associated with participating in the programme? 

Successful applicants will not need to make payment for a licence.  However, attendance at training workshops will be expected to be undertaken at the applicant’s expense, and applicants will be expected to supply the required equipment at their own expense.  

How many years will the programme last?  

The pilot programme ran for 13-weeks during 2021. The programme was evaluated and CHART 2022 was given the go-ahead. No decisions beyond 2022 have been made at this point. 

How can anglers get involved? 

Anglers may participate in the fishery by booking places on an authorised vessel, a list of which will be published on the Cefas CHART website once the successful applicants have been decided. 

Will training be provided to those who receive authorisation? 

All new authorised skippers and their primary crews must attend a mandatory 2-day training workshop, where guidance will be provided around best practice for fish restraint, tagging, welfare, condition assessments, data collection and fishing techniques. All returning skippers and their crews must attend a refresher workshop.  Only skippers who have attended the training will receive their licence to fish. The workshops are planned for July 2022.

What will an authorised skipper be permitted to do? 

The primary goal of the licence is to enable the skipper and their crew member to contribute to the CHART programme.  Their role will be to manage the fishing and tagging process and ensure that BFT are handled appropriately and released in the best possible condition.  Only authorised skippers and their trained crew will be permitted to tag BFT, and they will also be responsible for the safe release of the BFT caught by anglers on their boat.

What will an authorised skipper not be permitted to do?

Bringing live BFT onboard is strictly prohibited, as is the use of live bait to capture BFT. Skippers may not target and tag BFT outside of the pre-notified fishing days and they may not delegate tagging responsibility to anyone other than a registered certificated crew.

What measures are in place to protect against unauthorised targeting of BFT? 

The Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and Inland Fisheries Conservation Authorities (IFCA’s) will undertake inspections and patrols around the coast. Any unauthorised skippers found targeting BFT could be subject to prosecution and any licenced vessels acting outside the conditions of the licence may have their licence revoked. 

What should I do if I have concerns or information on unauthorised targeting of BFT?

Please call the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) on - 0131 271 9700 to report any concerns or to pass on information relating to unauthorised targeting or landing of BFT.

Where will CHART be operating? 
During 2022, applications were invited from vessels located in the southern North Sea 4.c, eastern and western English Channel and the Bristol Channel (English areas of ICES Divisions 7.d, 7.e (excluding the territorial waters (12 nm) of the Channel Islands) and 7.f). Successful vessels will only be permitted to fish in these same regions plus Division 7.h.

How many days at sea must be completed? 

A minimum commitment of 15 days per vessel is required to participate in the programme.

What data will CHART be collecting and why are these data important?

The main aim of the programme is data collection to improve the science and management of BFT in English waters. Data collection is therefore required for each angling trip targeting BFT and for BFT capture events. Data will be collected on the effort, number of hookups and tagged BFT, behaviour and condition of the fish and length of the BFT. Additionally, data will be collected on the socio-economic benefits of CHART. Every BFT angling trip will be closely monitored; observers will be on board for at least 5% of trips, and any newly authorised skippers will be required to have video monitoring including the leadering, tagging and fish recovery.  Data will contribute not only to improve our understanding of BFT in English waters but will also be summarised and supplied to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) as the management body of BFT, to support sustainable management of this species.

What are the conservation impacts of the programme?  

The purpose of the programme is to gather scientific information about BFT and the benefits of a BFT catch and release programme.  Animal welfare and sustainability have been at the forefront of the programme design process, and any impact on BFT will be minimised by applying a rigorous application and selection process, gear restrictions, close monitoring and ongoing evaluation of the programme. Successful applicants will have to attend a mandatory training and best practice workshop which will cover, fish restraint, tagging, welfare, condition assessments, data collection and fishing techniques. The protocols and training are being designed under the oversight of Cefas’ Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body (AWERB). Scientific observers will be on board at least 5% of the trips and camera monitoring will be mandatory on any vessel new to CHART in 2022 to inform refinement, best practice and assist in training. Natural England have been involved in the programme design.

Similarly, the programme in 2022 will undertake a Habitats Risk Assessment to consider and mitigate for any adverse impacts CHART may have on the local habitat and wildlife such as seabirds and cetaceans. A seabird and marine mammal avoidance protocol will also be in operation to limit bycatch risk.

Can skippers sell/use any BFT which may suffer mortality during the capture? 

Any BFT that die during the capture process need to be landed and handed over to the MMO.  Failing to do so would be a breach of the terms and conditions of the licence provided on successful completion of the application and training process. The BFT will be used for scientific purposes and data contributed to international research through the BFT management body of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).  

Can BFT be landed if they are caught accidentally by other recreational vessels? 

Recreational sea anglers are not permitted to target BFT and must release any unintended catches (bycatch) immediately and unharmed. BFT caught as bycatch which are dead must be reported to the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) by contacting the local MMO office, who may make arrangements for those BFT to be brought ashore. BFT brought ashore with permission must not be sold and will be used for scientific research purposes only.   

Who do I contact for more information?  

You can e-mail  for more information. Please state the nature of your enquiry (e.g. general, FoI request) and your position (e.g. journalist, skipper, angler, public etc.) so we can direct your enquiry to the right person.