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Rare tuna is first caught in UK seas

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 25, 2011

  • Brett near his Pentire home with the 35lb tuna fish. It provided a tasty meal for him, wife Vivienne and children Joel, 7, and Sienna, 5.

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An endangered fish made a rare appearance in South West waters – only to be speared by a diver.

Brett Morison caught the northern bluefin tuna while underwater fishing in Portland Harbour, Dorset.

His 35lb catch has been confirmed as a national record by the British Spearfishing Association, which has no log of any tuna being caught in UK seas.

The species is rated "critically endangered" after years of over-fishing and conservationists have warned it should be left alone.

Richard Harrington of the Marine Conservation Society said: "Bluefin tuna are at the point of extinction, and it would be irresponsible to encourage anglers and fishermen to target them."

The northern bluefin is usually found in warmer waters in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, but is thought to be moving north due to global warming extending its feeding grounds.

Mr Morison, 37, of Newquay, said he had made the trip to Portland with friends James Keith and Scott Bartecki to take part in an annual spear-fishing competition, only to find it had been cancelled due to poor weather but they went into the murky waters undeterred.

Just minutes later, he got the shock of his life when a large fish sped out of the gloom towards him just six metres below the surface.

"It sounds a bit crazy but I immediately thought, 'that's a big mullet.' By this time it was turning hard and fast after an arc from right to left, and I thought 'Oh my God, it's a tuna."

He quickly fired his spear and skewered it at almost point blank range as it raced past – only later learning that it was a rare bluefin tuna.

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  • Tuna50mph  |  July 25 2011, 4:56PM

    It takes expert marine biologists time and examination to call it as a Bluefin or Yellowfin, closely followed by Blackfin or Big Eye. A tuna is a tuna in a millisecond in the water for a spearfisherman let alone in the poor visibility of the UK. Bluefin have been migrating and residing in the UK for the last century at a minimum and will continue to do so. Grandparents will remember the large tuna fisheries of the NE UK of the past. Yellowfin, Almaco jack, amberjack, bonito have all been caught in the UK in recent years. Catching food for your own consumption, in this case fish, rather than putting your trust in the purported, not 100% verifiable 'green' fishing method of any retailer of fish, is sustainable. Great numbers of people living in towns and cities are becoming so detached from the food source reality that they are very easily led in the emotive sense and the people involved in these subsistence fishing methods are quite the opposite of a Jaws mentality. It takes years to become successful at catching good fish consistently by whatever method and it is blatantly obvious that going for a walk in the countryside, sitting outside a coffee shop with a paper, or paying a direct debit to the WWF or similar, would NOT enable anyone outside of the pursuit of experienced spearfishing to have the foggiest idea of what it actually entails. This act was clearly reported to those WITHIN the spearfishing community and the modern media has been quick to reap and sow because of the reaction it would elicit. Remember, by ensuring that the fish you eat are line-caught, troll-caught or dolphin friendly, means you will be minimising the environmental impact, NOT halting it. Somewhere some third world 'green method' fishing person shall be happily catching for the retailers Northern bluefin, southern bluefin, pacific bluefin, blackfin, longtail, yellowfin, big eye, skipjack, albacore, dogtooth...um...I'll stop there as there are over 50 'tuna' species.....all to be offered as a piece of...er.....'tuna'......can you tell? People and glass houses, stones....you know the story.

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