11/05/2012 06:55 EST | Updated 01/05/2013 05:12 EST

Fisheries critic defends tuna fishery

Putting an end to the tuna fishery on P.E.I. will do little more than devastate the economy of rural parts of the Island, says federal Liberal fisheries critic Lawrence MacAulay.

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is calling for public comments on whether the Atlantic bluefin tuna should be listed as endangered under Canada's Species at Risk Act. If tuna is listed, it would mean the end of the current bluefin tuna fishery. In its place would be a recovery strategy.

"We have one of the best and most controlled fishery in the tuna industry in the world here - hook and line," said MacAulay.

"The minister's responsibility is to do what's right and what's right is that the fishery is managed properly in Prince Edward Island. And if we put it on the endangered species list here all it does is take millions of dollars out of the pockets of our fishermen, and likely does nothing for the sustainability of the stock."

There are about 350 licensed bluefin tuna fishermen on P.E.I.

MacAulay, who is the MP for eastern P.E.I., has written a letter to acting fisheries minister Gail Shea asking her not to list the tuna.

The deadline for public submissions is Dec. 14.