Malpeque Bay mussel expansion talks concern lobster fishermen

The number of mussel farms in Malpeque Bay shouldn't increase because it could affect the lobster population, says the P.E.I .Fishermen's Association.

Potential lifting of moratorium would affect lobster spawning, says Fishermen's Association

The number of mussel farms in Malpeque Bay shouldn't increase because it could affect lobster production, says the P.E.I .Fishermen's Association.

Consultations are underway with fisheries groups and First Nations representatives to consider lifting a 15-year moratorium on expansion.

But PEIFA president Mike McGeoghegan says his board has told a federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans consultant the moratorium shouldn't be lifted because Malpeque Bay is a key lobster spawning area.

"All the red flags go up when we hear that. I mean, that's an environmentally sensitive area because of the lobster and the larvae that's there," said McGeoghegan.

"We don't know when you put that many more mussels into that water, the oxygen levels, plus they use lime for tunicate and stuff, plus the spread of tunicate, and there are just so many environmental questions that I can't answer. And when you're in a delicate area like that you have to be really careful."

The idea is to expand mussel growing in the bay by up to three per cent. McGeoghegan says it doesn't sound like a lot, but it would add lines to almost 1,500 acres of water.

The executive of the Island Oyster Growers Group isn't taking a position. There aren't a lot of oyster-growing leases in Malpeque Bay, but the group is happy to be part of the discussions, says president Shawn Cooke.