Catching Atlantic mackerel for tuna fishing will still be possible
OTTAWA — Bluefin tuna fishing companies will be able to continue to catch Atlantic mackerel for use as bait, under an exemption granted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Fishermen, primarily in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, had complained of losing their primary source of bait when the department recently imposed a moratorium on Atlantic mackerel fishing to protect the species.
In a statement released late Thursday, the ministry said all bluefin tuna rig and rod and line license holders will be able to catch 20 mackerel per trip for the purpose of using them as bait.
The announcement was positively received in Prince Edward Island, where the sport fishing industry is renowned for its tuna catch and release sessions.
Prince Edward Island Tuna Charterers Association president Troy Bruce 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 at catching the big fish, which can grow to over 450 kilograms.
According to Mr. Bruce, anglers around the world have long considered Canada’s smallest province a top destination for tuna fishing with rod and reel.
In March, federal Fisheries Minister Joyce Murray announced a ban on commercial directed or bait fishing for Atlantic mackerel in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, saying the species was seriously threatened.