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Halibut-tracking test hopes to prove quota increase needed

The Island’s week-long halibut fishing season kicks off on Sunday, but this year the fishermen are tracking the fish and trying to prove that Ottawa should increase their quota.

UPEI student is overseeing the project

Each Island fisherman can take in just over 100 kilograms of halibut. (CBC)

The Island’s week-long halibut fishing season kicks off on Sunday, but this year the fishermen are tracking the fish and trying to prove that Ottawa should increase their quota.

As part of the project, a handful of fishermen will be tagging some of the fish and returning them to the water. They're installing satellite tags that will track where the fish are concentrating throughout the year.     

Michael MacDonald with the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association says they're trying to make a case to Fisheries and Oceans Canada that fishermen should be allowed to catch more halibut. As it stands now, each Island fisherman can take in just over 100 kilograms.

“They can co-ordinate the position of the fish, in what part of the gulf they are over winter and where they travel over the year. If we can prove that the southern gulf is a distinct stock, maybe the southern gulf can get their own quota, clear of the northern quota, like Newfoundland and Quebec,” he explained.

“So we're hoping this will show there's lots of halibut in the water and we can get the increase in quota.”

A masters student at UPEI is overseeing the project.

It's expected to cost roughly $250,000 with most of the funding coming from provincial and federal grants.

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