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Increased redfish numbers may lead to reopening Gulf of St. Lawrence harvest

<p>A fisherman baits a trap to go aboard the Predator with redfish and herring Saturday, Oct. 13, the day before dumping day.</p>
-SaltWire Network

A significant increase in redfish stock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is spurring an interest in reopening redfish harvesting after a moratorium has been in place for nearly 25 years.

The provincial government wants to ensure Prince Edward Island gets its fair share of the redfish quota when Ottawa reopens the industry in the future.

“The Island was a major player in the redfish industry until the moratorium was put in place in 1995, and we want to see that same success in the future,” said Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Robert Henderson.

“We are aware there are competing interests for access and that we need to approach this in a way that is equitable for the provinces and sustainable for the industry.”

The redfish species, which is a deep-water groundfish, has notably increased in size recently due to three strong years of population growth. Today, it is estimated that there are 2.5 million tonnes of redfish in the gulf.

P.E.I. had its first recorded redfish landings in 1959 and harvested the stock up to the time of the moratorium.

During the last major period of fishing in the 1980s and early 90s, over 50 trawler men and 300 employees from the Island worked at a year-round fish plant in eastern P.E.I.

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