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Canadian Fishermen Pleased With Bluefin Tuna Plan

Tuna fishermen in P.E.I. are happy with recent changes to the bluefin fishery announced by federal Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea.

“This is definitely a positive move,” said Walter Bruce, chair of the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association Tuna Advisory Committee. “This change allows access to fishermen in all areas to a more fair and competitive fishery. It is something that P.E.I. and other Maritime fleets have sought for some years.”

While much of the plan remains the same as last year, Bruce said a key change is the elimination of quota transfers between Canadian fleets. In recent years, fleets that did not catch their full quota were allowed to transfer the uncaught portion to another Canadian fleet. That practice is no longer allowed.

“Rather than quota transfers, any uncaught tuna quota by Oct. 20 will be returned for redistribution to inshore fleets,” he said. “This uncaught quota will be distributed on the basis of percentage shares to tuna fleets that each was allotted at the beginning of the season.”

Association president Ken Drake added, “The practice of selling quotas put the tuna fishery on a slippery slope of individual transferable quotas—a method of privatizing the fishery,” He added the fishery is a national resource and the access should be guaranteed to all license holders.

The total Canadian quota for inshore fleets is 473 metric tons. Of this, the 348 vessel P.E.I. tuna fleet has been allotted 30 per cent or 138 metric tons. As a result of the change in regulation, the tuna advisory committee has adjusted its season dates. Fishing for a 40 metric ton allotment will begin Aug. 3. It will remain open until the allotment is gone, with the remainder of the quota to be fished in a second season starting October 5.