Independent oyster fishermen warn of threats to their industry

Colin MacLean
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FILE PHOTO - Fishers harvest oysters from Rustico Bay.

BEDEQUE – Representatives from the Prince Edward Island Shellfish Association met with reporters Monday to discuss what they say is the encroachment of big business on their traditional fishery.

A number of issues were brought up, but the most significant was the issuance of ‘add a species’ permits.

These permits allow predominantly mussel leaseholders to apply for the right to add a species to their lease, such as oysters.

The fishermen pointed out that mussel leases are significantly larger than those dedicated solely to oysters and that the more farmed shellfish are allowed to be grown the less marketshare there would be for small independants, such as themselves. 

More to come. 

Organizations: Prince Edward Island Shellfish Association

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  • AMAZED
    June 03, 2014 - 11:34

    The mussel industry is the death bell ringing for all our fisheries . They suck so much life out of our rivers nothing else ventures up them to look for food . In fact they are so overstocked they are choking each other out and cannot grow as well as before . Their affluent and spat are a nuisance 10 miles outside the river! This whole gong show should be stopped .

  • The Urban Oysterman
    June 03, 2014 - 06:57

    Think about the apparent change from a Public Fisheries to Farming Oysters has realities. Aquaculture gives a know number of Oysters. Methods product consistencies in shape , size, and meat quality. An Oyster is handled almost twice to three times more often in aqua farming than in a wild fisheries. For a farmed Oyster to reach 4" plus(which is as rare as God's Teeth) it would take 3 to 4 times the water space as the count per bag has to be split to allow the Oyster it's environment to grow. to a decent larger size. The structure for farming Oysters falls right into the lap of corporate identities. It takes money to farm Oysters.... on bottom , bag on rebar, or floated bag off bottom. Mussel identities or established Oyster lease holders who are aqua culturing Oysters have the leg up if not the leases already in play. why not get an extension to a mussel lease, an add on to do Oysters(maybe even clams). The Virginica species(The Infamous Malpeque) grows 3 times slower in the North East as it takes in Mid New England for the same speices. The baby Oyster for the New England Oysters come from on land hatcheries where PEI depends on a natural caught set of babies for the bag, or import from NB the juvenile stock. Look at other countries.... Europe eats 99.9% farmed Oysters. America from Maine to Florida has over 1300 registered growers of Oysters. Farmed Oysters produce on the average a 2" - 2.5" puny cocktail Oyster and the smaller it is the cheaper it can be offered to distributors in Urban markets who put the brand name and size deficiencies spin on the product through hype and box design.... the word Malpeque is disappearing. PEI Public Wild Oysters are seen, when they are holding size(3"-4+") and perfect shape(been growing in the same spot for 7-9+years) the best meat qualities that historically have the capital M to Malpeque..... mmmmhhh good... these beauties are seen as the cream of the ocean, the best of the best. The corporatization of Oyster'n is apparent and is on PEI's doorstep, if not already having a good leg in the door. There is a fair amount of worrying in this here Oyster'n!

    • gary
      June 03, 2014 - 12:14

      ummm, wha?