Prince Edward Island should allow tourists to swim with tunas

An American author and educationalist has suggested that Prince Edward Island, a Canadian territory, could offer tourists a chance to swim with tunas.

Carl Safina, a professor who teaches at Stony Brook University, said that the island could benefit financially if authorities offer tourists the chance to swim with tuna fish, which can reach up to 500 kilograms in weight.

Safina was on the island this autumn to film a documentary, and was enthusiastic about his own experience of swimming with a group of tuna off North Lake.

This has led Safina to consider the potential that such programmes could offer to tourists. Safina said, ‘I think it would really change people’s relationship with these fish in a way that is similar to what people do on coral reefs. There are a lot of fish on coral reefs. But the big money is in letting people dive on reefs and letting them just see how the fish really are. There is an opportunity in Prince Edward Island and maybe even in parts of New Brunswick, to actually get in the water with these really, really amazing giant fish.’

Safina’s documentary was filmed in the name of conservation, as he has been lobbying the government to have the Atlantic blue fin tuna included in the list of endangered fish species. However not everyone is buying into his idea because tuna fishing is fairly entrenched in the area and many people make a living from it. The suggestion that tuna tourism could adequately replace the fishing industry is likely to be treated with scepticism.

Some believe that swimming in the waters with the tuna is quite dangerous because of the day-to-day activity associated with the fishery. A person directly associated with the industry said, ‘Divers could get caught in nets, and if there happens to be a person fighting a tuna on a hook and line, the line is zipping tight and it could cut through you quite easily.’