This is the second in a series of posts by Blue Ocean co-founder Bob Frerck relating the experiences of his combined family vacation and Blue Ocean research while traveling thru Canada’s Atlantic Maritime Provinces —
After we left the Bay of Fundy and its flower pots and fossils, see Part 1, our family’s maritime adventures continued to Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island. Although the smallest of Canada’s provinces by a wide margin, (the population of the island is about 800,000) PEI has a lot to offer. Charlottetown is beautifully located on a protected bay that is also the confluence of three rivers. The island has numerous beaches, windblown sand dunes, Anne of Green Gables and lobsters, lots of lobsters.
We left Charlottetown for Basin Head, considered Canada’s top beach near PEI’s eastern most tip. Claiming to have the warmest waters north of the Carolinas, it is also home to the Basin Head Fisheries Museum. The museum and nearby fishing fleets boast of being the Blue Fin Tuna Capital of the world. (photo- Prince Edward Island Tourism)
Blue Fin Tuna Capital of the World
We have been hearing dire warnings of the collapse of the world’s Blue Fin Tuna populations and this has certainly been true in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean where overfishing and non-compliance with fisheries’ regulations have decimated their numbers. A similar crisis seems to be unfolding in the Pacific, where Blue Fin populations have fallen dramatically and recent actions by the Trump Administration to deny endangered species protection further imperil these iconic fish. (photo – Laurie Wilson)
So, we wanted to find out what was happening in Canadian waters with the western Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna and local fishermen and the Fisheries Museum seemed to be the place to find out. The western Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna migrate from the Gulf of Mexico northward and within a 200 mile coastal zone along the eastern United States until they reach Canadian waters.
Canada receives an annual quota from ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna) determining the size of that year’s harvest. This quota is then allocated to individual fishing fleets, who determine how their share of the quota is to be divided. After a fisherman (who is normally fishing for lobster or mussels) buys a license, he is allowed to catch a single fish, he may or may not be successful, however catching a single 1000 lb. Blue Fin may very well insure his financial success for the season.
Rod and Reel Only
Strict regulations dictate the type of gear (rod and reel), the season, numbers and size of Blue Fin Tuna that can be harvested. The fishermen that we talked too very proudly expressed that they only use rod and reel to catch tuna. During the previous season one had caught a 900lb. tuna that was directly shipped off to Japan for auction and eventual sale as sushi. All the fishermen that we interviewed were eager to mention that the western Atlantic Blue Fin that they were harvesting are seen in healthy numbers with lots of smaller fish indicating a growing population. (photo – PEI)
However, there continues to be controversy surrounding the health of the western Atlantic Blue Fin population, predictably some want the quotas on harvesting to be raised, others suggest caution and waiting for additional scientific data before quotas are changed. Regardless it would seem that American and Canadian fishermen have an important lesson to share with the world – that Blue Fin harvesting can be made sustainable when strong regulations are in place and strict enforcement and monitoring is practiced. Unfortunately, these sustainable practices are difficult to translate to other fishing industries and cultures especially in the Pacific.
PEI’s North Shore and Delvay by the Sea
PEI is famous for the sand dunes that rim its northern shoreline, so our next destination had to be Prince Edward Island’s National Park and Delvay by the Sea. Now a small, historic hotel, Delvay was originally built in 1895 by Alexander MacDonald, the one-time president of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. MacDonald named the house “Dalvay By The Sea” after his boyhood home in Scotland. Delvay, a historic site, is in the National Park, a short walk to the dunes and beach and our comfortable cottage was a real treat.
What struck me as we strolled for miles on the Park’s spectacular beach was that I was missing something. Plastic debris and pollution! There wasn’t any! I take that back, I did pick up one plastic bottle and dropped it into a nearby bin, that wasn’t very full. I’ve walked along many beaches around the world and this was one of the most pristine. The lesson is that we can reclaim our ocean from plastic pollution given proper waste disposal and a national urgency such as what is apparent in eastern Canada where total recycling and waste management are essential parts of the culture’s infrastructure.
Anne of Green Gables in News from the Maritimes, Part 3
Just west of the National Park is the town of Cavendish, the pilgrimage site for all things related to Anne of Green Gables. You probably do not appreciate the world wide popularity of Lucy Montgomery’s beloved character Anne until you see the numbers of tourists flocking to Anne’s Heritage Sites. In our next installment of News from the Maritimes, we visit Anne of Green Gables; taste the world famous Malpeque oysters; visit the lesser traveled western end of Prince Edward Island and then on to Halifax and Nova Scotia.
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
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