Bluefin tuna could be added to species at risk list

The Atlantic bluefin tuna could be listed under Canada's Species at Risk Act. That would make it illegal to fish them.

P.E.I. tuna fishermen keeping close eye on public consultation by D.F.O.

Tuna fishermen from Prince Edward Island are keeping a watchful eye on public consultations underway by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

D.F.O. is calling for public comment on whether Atlantic bluefin tuna should be listed as endangered under Canada's Species at Risk Act.

If Atlantic bluefin tuna are listed under the federal act, it would mean the end of the current bluefin tuna fishery and a recovery strategy would be put in place.

"It would become illegal to fish the species," said Sophie Bastien-Daigle, regional manager of the D.F.O. species at risk program. "There would have to be other measures put in place to ensure its recovery."

Bastien-Daigle said the final decision will rest with the fisheries minister after looking at scientific information, the socio-economic impact and comments from Canadians.

She stresses no decision has been made yet and won't come until next year after the minister has weighed all the issues.

"We'd actually like to hear from all Canadians who could be affected," said Bastien-Daigle. "We want to hear from them about their views on bluefin tuna, about how they would be affected by a listing decision."

The deadline for public submissions is Dec. 14. Comments can be made by going to the D.F.O. website or by phoning or e-mailing the department.

Buyers from Japan and the U.S. pay thousands of dollars per tuna — a key ingredient in sushi.

There are about 350 licensed bluefin tuna fishermen on P.E.I.