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Prices for Atlantic silverside have risen in recent years as the lobster industry uses the small fish for bait.

Fishermen catching Atlantic silverside on Prince Edward Island are seeing a rise in demand as the lobster industry increasingly uses the small fish as bait.

The main market for silversides has typically been as food for marine animals in zoos. But one Island fisherman says prices are climbing as it becomes more popular with lobster fishermen.

“The price has gone up substantially,” said Wendell MacKenzie, who has been fishing silversides for a dozen years.

“In the first 10 years I fished we got 50 cents a pound every year. And in the last two years we've gotten as high as 75 and 80 cents.

“The catches haven't been any better. In fact they probably actually been a little lower, but the difference in the price has more than made up for it.”

MacKenzie said there’s a limited entry into the industry, with fishermen assigned a particular berth along a river.

He said a lot of fishermen on P.E.I. with inactive licenses have recently decided to get back into the silverside fishery.