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LETTER: Oyster industry in perilous state

Published on August 28, 2017

The media, upon learning that the Ellerslie Biological Station was no longer operating, investigated the reason. The P.E.I. Shellfish Association has experienced a major shake-up.  

The executive director, along with four directors resigned. They admitted no oyster spat was collected this year and last year’s collection had not been spread in P.E.I. rivers. The industry has been in limbo for the last six months.
The communications officer for the P.E.I. Department of Fisheries stated that government had withheld funding to the association this spring but declined to discuss the reasoning. The department is developing its own project. Six months later they are still working on the plan. He claims last year’s oyster spat will be spread (if it has not rotted) and an independent third party would be hired to monitor the enhancement activities.
Why is this department still working on a plan after six months? Does this department know when spat is collected and spread? Why is this department showing disdain for public fishers, who tong for oysters in P.E.I. rivers, their families and the related oyster economy? Does government realize 70 to 80 per cent of oysters are harvested by public fishers? In 2015 the value was $12.8 million.
The department’s mandate is to grow and sustain all elements of fisheries and protect the environment and resources. They also claim a commitment to openness and transparency.
This department’s inactions have set the oyster industry in a perilous state. Obviously our minister did not understand the mandate he signed.

Gary A. O. MacKay,
Birch Hill