pe-tuna-hauled

The quotas on P.E.I. and in Nova Scotia were reached in just two days this year. ((CBC))

Canada's efforts to raise the quota for the bluefin tuna catch in the western Atlantic hit rough waters last week in Paris.

Canada had two goals at the meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna: to see the quota raised, and to improve monitoring of the catch. But it failed on both initiatives.

Canada wanted to see the bluefin tuna catch increase by at least 15 per cent, and brought scientific evidence that this would still allow the stocks to rebuild over the next decade. The U.S. was asking for a significant reduction, although the exact amount hasn't been released.

Canada's negotiating position also included new monitoring measures internationally that would mirror how the fishery currently runs in Canada. Every fish is tagged and dockside monitors record each landing. Canada also includes in the quota the estimated number of tuna that will die after they break free from a fishermen's line.

"We were disappointed that other parties fishing the western bluefin tuna fishery did not support those additional reporting and monitoring measures," said Faith Scattolon, who led Canada's delegation.

Fishermen disappointed

Given the lack of interest in improved monitoring, Canada changed its quota request and asked that it remain the same as last year. The final number was down slightly, from 1,800 to 1,750 tonnes.

Walter Bruce, chair of the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association Tuna Advisory Committee, said he was disappointed.

"We shouldn't be going down; we should be going up," said Bruce.

We've suffered pain for a long time now, with reduced quotas every year. It's almost time for some gain, and it hasn't happened yet."

Bruce said after years of conservation, fishermen were hoping for a break, especially after the abundance of tuna seen in the waters this year. P.E.I. caught its quota in two days.