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Bluefin Pricing Is Main Concern As Canadian Tuna Season Opens

Prices are the biggest concern as fishermen head out today for the first day of tuna season.

According to P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association chair Wayne Bruce, tuna fishermen are potentially facing similar conditions as lobster fishermen.

That being said, the final prices for tuna aren’t yet known.

However, Bruce said fishermen are hoping to meet the $11 a pound price they saw last year.

We’re not hoping for any worse than that,’’ he said.

“Hopefully it will be better. But it’s all supply and demand, it’s a buyer’s market.’’

Bruce added the quota for the year is 138 tons, but for the early season fishermen will max out at 40 tons.

Once that’s caught, the season is over.

“There’s going to be tuna caught,’’ he said.

“How soon, only time will tell. It could be two days, it could be a stretch of a couple of weeks. It all depends.’’

Weather is just one of the many factors that can either speed up or slow down the season, but as far as Bruce is concerned weather likely won’t be an issue.

“If you can’t get out you’re not going to catch anything,’’ he said.

“But you’re probably safe right now. Weather in August shouldn’t be an issue.’’

Weather and prices aside, the industry is looking at a major change this season in terms of  quota transfers.

First announced in July, fleets who don’t meet their full quota will not be allowed to sell off  their uncaught portion to another Canadian fleet.

Instead, those numbers will return for redistribution to inshore fleets, which will then be distributed based on percentage shares to tuna fleets that were allotted at the beginning of the season.

The change was made by Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea to eliminate what many fishermen consider early privatization of the industry.