Plans for the 2024 Bluefin tuna (BFT) catch and release recreational fisheries

New legislation (The Sea Fisheries (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2024) will make it a criminal offence for any recreational fishing vessel to target BFT in the UK without a permit.

Home Nations


WeThe are2024 expectingRegulations enable the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) to openproceed awith the application process that will allow around 85 permitted vessels to operate in the BFT catch and release recreational fishery (CRRF),(CRRF) forin permittedEnglish vessels,waters.

The infishery Englishis watersexpected to open in summerearly August and run until December 2024.

Key Thedates exactfor seasonthe startEnglish dateBFT CRRF:

  • BFT CRRF application period opens 10 June.
  • BFT CRRF application period closes 30 June 2024.
  • Applicants will be confirmednotified oncewhether thethey newhave legislationbeen hassuccessful comeor intonot, force.between Thisthe fishery15 isJuly expectedand to19 runJuly until2024.
  • BFT CRRF opens early August.
  • BFT CRRF closes at the latest by 31 December 2024.


Welsh Government is consideringworking to introduce a catch and release recreational fishery in Welsh waters for charter vessels in 2024. FurtherIf detailsyou andoperate updatesa willcharter bevessel publishedyou bycan Welshregister Governmentinterest whenin available.the fishery by emailing

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Scotland and Northern Ireland will not be opening BFT CRRFs in their waters in 2024. 

Joining the 2024 English BFT CRRF

You will need a permit to join this fishery.

MMO will issue permit application guidance and the application submission dates once the new legislation has come into force.

Permit numbers will be proportionate to the amount of quota available,available to cover any incidental BFT mortalities.

The MMO will be responsible for issuing permits for the English BFT CRRF. Initially, In 2024, permits will be free of charge. In In future years, charges are likely to be introduced.

We are setting out this provisional guidance now to give you the maximum amount of time to prepare to apply.

We want to determine levels of interest in the English BFT CRRF ahead of applications opening. You can register your interest by emailing us at

Please note that this is not compulsory, but in registering your interest we can inform you when the application process has opened so that you can apply and be considered for a permit.   However, it remains your responsibility to check the website regularly for updates. The next CRRF update is expected in June.   

How English BFT CRRF permits will be allocated.

To be eligible for a permit you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be the owner of a vessel registered in the United Kingdom under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.
  • Your vessel must not be less than 5 metre in overall length and must be powered by an engine/motor.
  • You must not have secured a permit for the UK commercial BFT fishery trialtrial. (pleaseSee seeBluefin thetuna (BFT) commercial BFTfishery sectionwithin (addUK link).waters - GOV.UK (
  • You must not have secured a permit for theanother WelshUK BFT CRRF.
  • If your vessel is used for charter fishing trips, you will need to provide a copy of your Small Commercial Vessel Certificate (SCV2).
  • You will be asked to submit a recent photograph of your vessel with external registration markings on display.

The permit application process will be open forfrom a10:00 seton amountMonday of10 time .June until 23:59 on Sunday 30 June.

All applications will be evaluated once the permit application process has closed. If If MMO receive more applications than the number of permits available, then MMO will prioritise applications as follows:

  • Priority 1: Charter vessels owned by those who either skippered or owned a vessel that participated in a UK CHART programme.
  • Priority 2: Charter vessels owned by those who participated in a UK CHART programme as crew.
  • Priority 3: CharterAny vesselsother charter vessel owned by an individual who does not linkedmeet tothe arequirements UKof CHARTcategory programme.1a or 1b.
  • Priority 4: Private vessels

Additionally,Some some permits will be ringreserved fenced for private vessels,vessels to ensure this group also has the opportunity to participate in the 2024 English BFT CRRF. They will be issued by lottery and no priority will be given to private vessels owned by those who participated in a UK CHART programme.

InDue to the unlikelyexpected eventvolume of interest, submitting an under-subscription,application will not automatically guarantee that you receive a permit.  MMO reserves the right to undertake a random selection process if required.

In the unlikely event of undersubscription, MMO may consider extending the application submission period to allow more applications. This will be communicated as appropriate.

How to apply for a 2024 English BFT CRRF permit.

For your application to be considered, all evidence must be attached in one email, with the subject heading ‘BFT CRRF application submission’, and sent to:

You will need to complete and submit the following:

  1. Complete the BFT CRRF application form attached below.
  2. Provide a copy of the UK Ship Registercertificate showing that your vessel has been registered on either part 1, 2 or 3 of the UK ships register.
  3. Provide a copy of your Small Commercial Vessel Certificate SCV2 only required if your vessel is used for charter fishing trips.
  4. Provide a photograph of the vessel displaying external registration marking on the hull to allow for identification.
  5. Applicants can also include copies of evidence/documentation supporting their CHART involvement. Optional

BFT CRRF application form

Request an accessible format.
If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

The BFT CRRF application form requires the owner to select which priority category they wish to apply under and provide an explanation of their selection.  For instance, if selected ‘Priority 1’, then a written explanation of their involvement within a UK CHART programme is required.

The submission must be sent before the closing deadline of 11:59 Sunday 30 June.

How we will handle your application information

Your personal information will be handled in accordance with the MMO personal information charter and privacy notice. Personal information charter - Marine Management Organisation - GOV.UK (

MMO reserves the right to use your information within your application to validate/verify CHART participation with Cefas, and/or other bodies overseeing other CHART Programmes.

Personal information will only be shared with third parties for social research purposes with the consent of the applicant. Defra social science teams will only contact applicants that provide consent. This will not affect your chances of obtaining a permit.

What will be expected of the permit participants in the 2024 English BFT CRRF

AnThe English BFT CRRF permit allows for the named vessel to be used to ‘catch and release’ BFT by rod and line only, for the defined period,period in English waters.

The vessel owner and skipper are both liable for ensuring that legislative requirements are followed.

The new legislation will set out how any caught BFT should be treated. It will stipulate that BFT must not be:

  • harmed,
  • removed from the sea,
  • brought aboard a vessel,
  • transferred to any other vessel,
  • landed.

It will also require all permit BFT fishing trips carried out in English waters to be reported to the MMO within 24 hours upon return, regardless of whether any BFT were caught or not.

Details on how permit holders are to report their information will be communicated to successful applicants and set out within their permit.

The vessel owner and skipper will be legally bound by permit conditions set by the MMO.

The permit will not be transferable to a different owner or in respect of a different fishing boat.

The MMO has the power if needed to vary, suspend, or revoke permits, under the conditions set out in the new legislation.

BFT Code of Conduct

All participants in the English BFT CRRF are encouraged to undertake training and to adopt the voluntary code of conduct, which will set out best practice relating the catching and release of BFT.

The guidance andis trainingbeing hasproduced been developed collaboratively by the Angling Trust, the UK Bluefin Tuna Association, the Professional Boatman’s Association, Centre of Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and Natural England. ItOnce isavailable, expecteda link to the provider’s guidance will be availableappear fromhere. May.Other training providers may be available.

Registration under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995

To demonstrate that your vessel has been registered in the United Kingdom under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 you must provide a certificate showing that your vessel has been registered on either part 1, 2 or 3 of the UK ships register (UKSR): (UKSR):

The appropriate part of the register depends on the class of the vessel.

  • Part 1 or Part 3 registration will be accepted for non-commercial fishing vessels.  You will need to check with the UKSR to determine which is suitable for your vessel.

  • Part 2 of the register is reserved for commercial fishing vessels (those issued with an MMO licence to sell fish for profit). If you are applying as an owner of commercial fishing vessel you can submit a copy of your existing part 2 registration certificate.

Please note that the MMO will require a photograph of the vessel displaying external registration markings on the hull to allow for identification.

Depending on vessel type you may be required to provide supporting documents and pay the appropriate fee to register your vessel with UKSR. Please allow sufficient time in order for the UKSR registration to be complete.

Applications for UKSR registration and advice can be found here at at

Published 28 March 2024
Last updated 10 June 2024 + show all updates
  1. Update 10/06/24

  2. First published.