Mysterious Bluefin Tuna Deaths washing up on the shorelines of Atlantic Canada

In each of the past 3 years the Atlantic regional node of the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (CCWHC) in  Charlottetown, PEI, has been contacted by either the provincial or federal government to investigate Bluefin tuna deaths in Atlantic Canada.   Members of the CCWHC, in cooperation with Aquatic Diagnostic Services at the Atlantic Veterinary College have performed 3 necropsies on bluefin tuna.  All of these fish were found washed-up on the shoreline of the Northumberland Strait between PEI and the neighboring provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  The cause of death appears to be unique to each case, and no common disease was detected.  To read about these cases, click here.

Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus, comprise a major fishery in Atlantic Canada, with annual landings in the range of 500 metric tons and are therefore very important to the local economy.  The blue-fin fishery surrounding Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Nova Scotia produce some of the largest specimens (up to 3 meters in length), with fish ranging in size from 136 – 600 Kg, but usually averaging 300 Kg.  The flesh of the Bluefin is highly prized for sushi in the Asian markets and specimens of the best quality can sell upward of $ 200 – 300,000 US.

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