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Along with monstrous tuna, fisherman sees giant payday slip away

Imagine Ivan Regular’s surprise when he hauled in his herring net and discovered that it contained a monstrous bluefin tuna that might have been worth a small fortune on the Japanese market … only to learn that he had to throw the whopper back.

The remarkable haul was made in the North Atlantic off the Newfoundland coast and here’s the catch: Regular, from the island town of Baie Verte, did not possess a license to fish for tuna, and it was caught out of season.

Because of this he was ordered by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans to leave the tuna in the ocean, even though the fish was already dead, and where this smarts most is in the wallet.

Atlantic bluefin, which are endangered, can be fished for only seasonally under strict guidelines. Bluefin caught out of season, even incidentally, must be thrown back. This rule is designed to keep the number of incidental catches to a minimum.

These fish, because of their fatty flesh, are extremely valuable in Japanese sushi restaurants.

Last January a 593-pound bluefin sold in a Japanese fish market for a record-setting price of $736,000.

Regular didn’t get a weight on his behemoth but said that based on what other bluefin have sold for, he believes his might have been worth as much as $500,000. He claimed even to have had a prospective buyer lined up, but was told by the DFO that any sale would be illegal.

“That would have been a wonderful fall for us,” the herring fisherman told CBC News.

But, he added, there was no point in dwelling on what might have been.

“I think fishermen got the best sense of humor of anybody that’s in the working force,” he said. “That’s all you can have in this racket, the fishery. You got to have a good sense of humor.”

Translation: There’s no point in crying over what might have been.

–Images of Ivan Regular’s fishing crew admiring the giant tuna are courtesy of Ivan Regular