Bluefin Tuna fishing in Italy and its specific regulations

Bluefin Tuna Overfishing

One of marine nature’s most successful occupants is the bluefin tuna. It’s a giant tuna and a beast at the top of the food chain with many natural bloodsuckers. But the emergence of artificial fishing styles and a savor for the tuna among fat sushi suckers have led to tuna overfishing and bluefin tuna extermination.

Unlike hunting which has an opening and closing season well defined by law, each fishing technique has its period of execution and specific regulations, which aim to safeguard the seas and fish.

Tuna is one of the most important fish species worldwide in terms of commercialized volumes and is now developed on an industrial scale. According to FAO data, the fishery for bluefin tuna ( Thunnus thynnus – Atlantic bluefin tuna  ) has reached 40 thousand tons between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean in recent decades. Furthermore, tuna fishing has more than tripled in the Mediterranean waters, thanks to the increase in farms, requested by the Japanese market and by the increasingly consistent demand for sushi and sashimi.

This required the introduction of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) which regulated fishing volumes and decreased total volumes.


Fishing and detention allowed: from June 16 to October 14.
Catch and release: all year round.
Size: from 50 to 150 kilograms.
Minimum legal size: 30 kilograms or 115 centimeters.


Today in Italy various systems for the protection of bluefin tuna are adopted. Italy is the only country in the Mediterranean that has decided to divide the allowable quota among the fishing vessels. In other countries, such as France, for example, there is a limit of a total undivided quota for the entire tuna fleet, which means that, once the TAC is reached, the capture activity is suspended. In Italy, on the other hand, the individual quota is valid, which is calculated according to the fishing system practiced and in proportion to the size of the boat.

 What does this entail?

In Italy, although the tuna fishing season runs from 16 June to 14 October (inclusive), this duration is purely indicative, given that the quantity allowed by the TAC is destined to run out very quickly. In recent years, around the end of July, the early closure decree usually arrives.


To fish for bluefin tuna it is necessary to have an authorization, free and valid for three years, issued by the Harbor Master’s Office. 

However, the license is granted to the boat and is valid for all fishermen on board, even in the absence of the owner of the boat. From here a regulatory problem arises: in practice,  only fishermen with support vehicles can fish for tuna, while those who dive starting from the ground or who practice fishing with shore rods do not have the right to authorization and are therefore not authorized for fishing.

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