Charter tuna boat captains in P.E.I. hope for mackerel closure exemption

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NORTH LAKE, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND — Charter boat tuna fishermen in Prince Edward Island say they are hoping for an exemption to the recent closure of the Atlantic mackerel fishery.

Troy Bruce, chairman of the P.E.I. Tuna Charter Association, says the commercial closure is a problem for charter boat captains on the Island who rely on mackerel as live bait to catch Atlantic bluefin tuna.

With mackerel stocks seriously depleted, federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray in March announced the closure of the fishery in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Bruce says the tuna fishery is catch and release so he’s optimistic something can be worked out under an exemption that allows participants in the recreational fishery to catch 20 mackerel per person.

He says P.E.I. Fisheries Minister Jamie Fox is supportive of the association’s stance, adding that recent conversations with federal officials have been positive.

In an email, Fox’s department confirms a letter was sent to Murray this week advocating for similar access to the mackerel recreation fishery for the tuna charter industry, which is worth an estimated $6 million annually to the Island’s economy.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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