P.E.I. tuna charters 'pretty much done' without mackerel for bait

·2 min read
Tuna charters generate big tourism money, says Troy Bruce. He says only mackerel will work as bait for the giant bluefin. (Canada International Tuna Cup Challenge/Facebook - image credit)
Tuna charters generate big tourism money, says Troy Bruce. He says only mackerel will work as bait for the giant bluefin. (Canada International Tuna Cup Challenge/Facebook - image credit)

A moratorium on commercial mackerel fishing could be an end to P.E.I. tuna charters as well if there is no exemption granted, says the P.E.I. Tuna Charter Association.

"We depend, not 100 per cent, but 99 per cent on live mackerel for tuna bait," said association chair Troy Bruce.

"We leave the dock at 7, 7:30, and the first thing we have to do is we have to catch live bait. We have a live holding system, circulating water tanks on the boat, and we put upwards of a couple of dozen mackerel in that tank and we use those exclusively for tuna fishing.

"Without live mackerel we're pretty much done."

There is no other fish available in P.E.I. waters that will work for tuna fishing, said Bruce.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced a moratorium on commercial mackerel and herring fishing in Atlantic Canada in March. There is no timeline for how long the moratorium will be in place.

A recreational fishery will continue, with a limit of 20 fish per day per person. The tuna charter association is looking for an exception that will allow for fewer than that. It wants 20 fish per boat, where there can be up to six clients per boat, for the 15 charter boats on the Island.

Tuna fishers tend to bring a lot of tourism money to the Island, said Bruce.

"We're going to have very very minimal impact on the mackerel stocks but still play an important economic role in the tourism sector," he said.

CBC
CBC

"These guys fly in and spend lots of money at hotels and restaurants and rental cars and some come in private jets. The typical tuna fisherman that comes from wherever, they have disposable income and they don't mind spending it."

Bruce noted that while the tuna charters boats will log all of their catches, DFO will have no idea how many fish are being caught in the recreational fishery.

Because most recreational tuna fishers come from outside Canada, tuna charters were hit particularly hard by the pandemic when travel was restricted, and were hoping for a comeback year.

The season is scheduled to start July 15.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting