A bluefin tuna caught, tagged and released off Harris on Friday (18 September) marks the beginning of a new phase of conservation research.

Donnie Macleod of Crossbost in North Lochs is the lucky fisherman pictured shaking fins with the massive fish, which was caught from the fishing vessel Harmony, skippered by Angus Campbell of Kilda Cruises in Harris.

Harris Development Ltd, which is spear-heading the local programme, announced early in August that they had been successful gaining derogations for three vessels to fish for bluefin tuna in waters off the Western Isles.

The scientific programme complements similar work by other European coastal states but they are currently the only organisation in Scotland issued with the derogations in a tightly controlled fishery.

A spokesman for HDL said: “We work closely with Marine Scotland and The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) using their reporting format to lead to a greater understanding of this spectacular fish.

“We hope to achieve multiple tags this year and this will feed into similar programmes taking place in Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway, giving scientists a clearer picture on BFT stock density and migration patterns. The data may also be used by scientists studying climate change and increasing oceanic temperatures.”

Regardless of the scientific benefit, there was no denying the thrill and gamesmanship of catching the huge fish on Friday. It took approximately 23 minutes for the fish to be brought to the vessel, whereupon it had a handshake from Donnie (pictured) and was swiftly tagged with an ICCAT tag and safely released.