P.E.I. tuna fishermen kept the wharf at North Lake busy. ((CBC))

A strong start to the tuna season on P.E.I. has fishermen wondering why scientists are considering recommending listing the fish as endangered.

Scientists from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada are reviewing the status of bluefin tuna stocks in the western Atlantic, and plan on making a recommendation to the federal departments of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans.

Fishermen landed 144 tuna in the first eight hours of fishing Monday off of P.E.I.'s North Shore. Officials expect the remainder of the quota to be caught Tuesday, meaning Island fishermen will catch their quota in two days, just as Nova Scotia fishermen did last week.

The wharf manager at North Lake told CBC News Monday she hasn't seen a day that busy in her 10 years. With catches so good, many P.E.I. fishermen, including Ross Keus, don't think bluefin need to be considered as an endangered species. 

"I don't think they have any grounds right here because of the proof of the abundance of tuna in Canada now," said Keus.


A Department of Fisheries and Oceans resource manager says that tuna stocks may appear strong off P.E.I., but it doesn't mean they are abundant everywhere. ((CBC))

"I think it's as strong, if not stronger, than ever."

The industry has been under pressure over fears for the stocks. Earlier this year, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species voted down a motion to ban international trade in tuna, a motion supported by Norway and the United States.

Last week, Metro, a major grocery store chain with 600 stores in Ontario and Quebec, decided to stop selling bluefin tuna. Its managers reviewed the evidence, and believe these fish are at risk of extinction.

Colin MacIsaac, P.E.I.'s resource manager for DFO, said just because the stocks are strong off P.E.I. doesn't mean they are everywhere.

"Although we see lots of evidence that the species is abundant in our waters, there might be other particulars that are going on in other parts of the world that we're not quite aware of," said MacIsaac.

The international body that oversees bluefin tuna fishing is releasing its latest assessment showing how the stocks are doing next week.


  • Scientists from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada are reviewing the status of tuna stocks, not scientists from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans as this story originally reported.
    Oct 05, 2010 9:39 AM AT