P.E.I.'s tuna season closes tentatively until October

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By Nancy Willis


SOURIS, P.E.I. — The Island giant bluefin tuna fishery closed Monday and fishers will remain off the water until October to catch the better market prices expected in the latter part of the 2008 season.

Walter Bruce, chair of the P.E.I. Tuna Advisory Committee, said this is in accordance with the original management plan, which called for a mid-quota closure until Oct. 6. The season opened July 30. Bruce said the tuna committee reserves the right to vary the seasons and quota involved in this plan as the situation dictates, and will issue any notice of reopening 48 hours in advance. “We realize that all fishers may not agree, but it is essential that we have a fishery that is under control,” he said.

Last year’s attempt to control price and quality by a variety of starts and stops ended up costing fishers dearly. At the time they quit fishing the first section of the season, the average price per pound was $11. But by the end of the second run the price had dropped to half that.

However, the committee believes that will not be the case this year. This time the closure in being based, for the most part, on the fact the main herring run will take place from now through September, and a tuna that is consuming mainly herring will not bring as high a price. “An all-herring diet affects the colour of the meat and lowers the price, that’s one of the major reasons we are not extending the quota now,” said Bruce.

By October it is hoped the tuna will be eating a varied diet of herring, mackerel and squid.

So far this season prices have remained reasonable, ranging from $2 to $17 a pound depending on quality.

As of Monday, Island fishers had caught 50 per cent of their 150-tonne allotment. (Nancy Willis is a journalist with Transcontinental Media’s Guardian newspaper, which is a contributor to the Sou’Wester.)

Organizations: P.E.I. Tuna Advisory Committee, Transcontinental Media

Geographic location: Iceland

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