PEI

Equalize P.E.I., N.L. tuna quotas, says MP Gerry Byrne

A Liberal MP from Newfoundland and Labrador says fishermen in his province should be able to catch as much bluefin tuna as P.E.I. fishermen.

It was 'going to turn ugly' when DFO equally divided halibut quota increase equally among Atlantic provinces

Gerry Byrne says DFO's spring decision to divide an increase in the halibut quota among the Atlantic provinces was 'going to turn ugly.' (CBC)

A Liberal MP from Newfoundland and Labrador says fishermen in his province should be able to catch as much bluefin tuna as P.E.I. fishermen.

Gerry Byrne says his province's tuna quota should climb from 13 per cent to a quarter of the catch following a decision  earlier this spring by the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea.

Shea changed the rules when she divided a 20 per cent increase in the Gulf of St. Lawrence halibut quota equally between the Atlantic provinces, says the MP for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte. (Byrne is not running in the federal election, but in a controversial move, said he will remain an MP while running in the Nov. 30 provincial election as the Liberal candidate in the newly formed Corner Brook district.)

The halibut decision increased Newfoundland's quota by 9 per cent and gave P.E.I. an 87 per cent boost.

"These are the rules that we didn't ask for, they were created for us. Forgive us for asking those rules to be enforced across the board," said Byrne.

"I know this is provocative. I know that there are fishermen in P.E.I. who are going to say. 'Whoa, that's not what was intended here.' But, you know, you've got to be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."

He says when the Atlantic halibut decision was made, many fishermen from both provinces said the situation was "going to turn ugly."

Prior to the Atlantic halibut decision, quotas were always been split based on adjacency, historic shares and attachment to a particular fishery, says Byrne.

CBC News asked both Shea and DFO for comment but has not received a response.

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