By Andy Walker
Opposition Fisheries Critic Colin LaVie has introduced two motions for debate during the fall session of the PEI legislature.
The MLA, who represents the fishing community of Souris and is a fisher by profession, is asking his colleagues to support the continuation of the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery. The federal government is looking at listing the giant bluefin as endangered under the Species at Risk Act. That would end both the commercial and the catch and release sport fishery.
“The hook and line tuna fishery is a well managed and important sector of the rural Prince Edward Island economy,” notes the motion. “The tuna fishery employs many Islanders and generates a great deal of economic activity throughout Prince Edward Island.”
Ottawa is now seeking public comment on the issue and LaVie said that makes it an ideal time for the legislature to show its support. The PEI Fishermen’s Association is also calling for the fishery to continue.
The fisheries critic also wants the legislature to issue a call for fairer access when it comes to quota for Atlantic halibut. The issue of PEI getting what it perceives to be the short end of the stick when it comes to species allocation is far from new. In fact, the former Conservative government of Pat Binns launched a court action against Ottawa over the issue that was later abandoned.
The motion noted PEI has 890 halibut licences, but received only one per cent of the total quota. By contrast, Quebec, which has 810 licences halibut fishermen, got almost half of the allocation.
The motion calls on acting Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea (who is filling for Keith Ashfield while he recovers from a heart attack) to re-evaluate the allocation to make sure PEI receives a “fair and equitable” portion.
Both motions are expected to be debated before the house adjourns for Christmas in mid-December. They will both likely pass easily.