Fishermen in no rush to sail to tuna grounds

Eric McCarthy
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ALBERTON -- Members of the P.E.I. commercial tuna fleet have been skunked so far in their 2014 season which opened July 30.

That’s no cause for concern, though, as only two members of the 359 member fleet have actually hailed out to go fishing.

As a fisheries conservation and management porocedure, participants must register with a monitoring company and hail out before going fishing. They must hail-in before returning to port with a fish and so far the two monitoring companies in P.E.I. have no fish to report.

The fleet has a 125-tonne quota, not counting the 10-tonne allotment for the charter boats, which is very similar to last year.

Fishermen are allowed one tag per vessel for the first phase of the fishery which goes until September 30. If there is any quota remaining, interested fishermen will participate in a draw for a chance to exercise a second tag in October.

Doug Fraser, a member of the P.E.I. Tuna Advisory Committee, said the majority of the fleet generally waits until later in the season to exercise their tag when the fish are bigger, but he admitted a fish caught at this time of the year when supply is lighter can fetch a price as good as or better than a larger fish. “It depends on the market,” he said.

One change in conditions this year allows two fishermen to partner up and fish their two tags from one boat. Both captains must be onboard the vessel, and the Once a partnership is created, it cannot be reversed until after the initial season closes on September 30. Both captains would have to be aboard once a vessel hails out.

A Department of Fisheries and Oceans official said DFO proposed the partnership idea to the advisory committee as a way to make the fishery more viable and the advisory committee endorsed the proposal.

Organizations: Department of Fisheries and Oceans, P.E.I. Tuna Advisory Committee

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