PEI

Pandemic's 'second wave' sending P.E.I. tuna prices down

Tuna fishers out of North Lake, P.E.I., are seeing the impact of rising COVID-19 case numbers in central Canada.

Some restaurants already closed, others nervous

There were good prices for tuna in July and August. (CBC)

Tuna fishers out of North Lake, P.E.I., are seeing the impact of rising COVID-19 case numbers in central Canada.

Tuna buyer and processor Jason Tompkins said the season got off to a good and early start this year.

"We had more fish go in July this year than any year in the last 20," Tompkins told Island Morning host Laura Chapin.

"A lot of guys did see the writing on the wall. They took our advice as buyers and went early, and the prices we saw in July and August were some of the highest we've seen in years."

But those prices have plummeted as COVID-19 cases rise. Tuna is almost exclusively exported off the Island, with restaurants the main market.

'We'll let you know'

In Montreal, restaurants are already closed so those orders are already cancelled, said Tompkins. Restaurants in other cities are being cautious.

"It's valuable and it's perishable," Tompkins said.

"If you look at Toronto, for example, normally we'd have customers, you know, 'Send us two fish on Monday, two fish on Wednesday and maybe one for the weekend.' They're now saying call us every day and we'll let you know."

Prices are down 50 per cent compared to last year, he said.

There is some talk about stopping fishing, said Tompkins, but the problem is if P.E.I. does not catch its quota this year, that could have an impact on its quota next year.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning

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