An amateur angler managed to reel in a monster 225 pound bluefin tuna off the British coast but shunned a fortune – to feast on it at home.
Chris Chatfield, 35, pulled in the massive endangered fish with his rod at the same spot near Jersey where French crews netted incredible 44 of them earlier this month.
He and three other recreational fishermen were surrounded by a ‘feeding frenzy’ of around 200 of the valuable fish.
They each hooked into one of the giants of the deep, but after a lengthy struggle were able to haul one on board.
He could have made thousands of pounds from selling the fish but decided to share half with his fellow fishermen and then enjoyed the rest with family and friends.
Chris, a boat repairman from St Saviour, Jersey, said: “We had four, one on each rod – I had to cut the rest loose because we couldn’t bring in four.
“It would have been possible to catch a lot more than four. We were in a feeding frenzy of 200.
“I could have made thousands, they work out at about £2,000 per fish, maybe more.
“But I gave half to the people on the boat and kept half for myself. I just ate it with family and friends.
“It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever caught in the UK. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t sleep after – it was a dream come true.”
The presence of the tuna added a fresh twist to the Anglo-French scallop war last week when two fishermen from France netted 44 of them in the same stretch of water.
The haul angered professional fisherman in Britain as they don’t have a quota to catch them.
The French brought the haul ashore at the nearby port of Granville in France to be sold.
The continued presence of the tuna has prompt the fishing authorities in Jersey to warn that even hobby anglers shouldn’t target the tuna as they are an endangered species.
But Chris added: “I don’t think there’s a problem with one fisherman catching one fish when the French are trawling and catching 44 in our waters.”
A spokesman for Jersey’s States Fisheries and Marine Resources said: “During the past two weeks, shoals of bluefin tuna (BFT) have been sighted in Jersey waters.
“BFT are categorised on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as endangered as they have been heavily overfished across their range.
“Severe restrictions are in place internationally in order to preserve the remaining wild stock.
“This includes strict quotas, which in the case of the UK is zero, which means BFT cannot be caught in UK waters by British commercial or recreational vessels.”
However, the spokesman added that the fish could legally be caught by recreational fishermen in Jersey waters.
He continued: “We are requesting that anglers do not target bluefin tuna, even on a catch-and-release basis.
“They are an endangered species and the prolonged struggle will kill most individuals, even if they are alive when released.
“It can take hours to land a tuna and by that point the animal will be exhausted and overheated to the point of no return.
“The dispersal of muscle heat is a particular issue and can lead to the animal, in effect, cooking itself from the inside out.
“While recreational fishing measures are being considered we remind anglers that this is an endangered species and it should not be targeted.”
Bluefin are one of the largest species of tuna and can live up to 40 years.
The World Wildlife Fund says that if tuna were a car they would be the Ferrari of the ocean because they are sleek, powerful, and made for speed.
There are several species but the Atlantic bluefin can reach 10ft in length and weigh as much as 1,500 lbs, more than a horse, and can swim up to 43 miles per hour across long distances.
They can be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds on the black market and one sold for a record £1.09 million at a Tokyo auction in 2013.