OTTAWA — The federal Fisheries Department has granted an exemption to bluefin tuna fishing businesses that will allow them to continue catching Atlantic mackerel to be used as bait.
Charter fishing companies, mainly in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, had complained about losing their prime source of bait when the department recently closed the Atlantic mackerel fishery to conserve dwindling stocks.
The department issued a statement late Thursday saying all tended-line and rod-and-reel Atlantic bluefin tuna licence holders are now permitted to catch 20 mackerel per fishing trip for bait purposes.
The new rules apply to all commercial catch-and-retain and catch-and-release tuna fisheries.
The announcement will come as good news in P.E.I., where the sport fishing industry is renowned for its big-game, catch-and-release tuna charters.
Troy Bruce, chairman of the P.E.I. Tuna Charter Association, has said catching a bluefin tuna without live mackerel would have posed a serious challenge to the industry.
Using dead bait or lures isn't nearly as effective for catching the big fish, which can reach more than 450 kilograms in size.
Bruce said sport fishers from around the world have long considered Canada’s smallest province as a prime destination to catch tuna with a rod and reel.
In March, federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray announced the closure of the mackerel fishery in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, saying the stocks were seriously depleted.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2022.
The Canadian Press