The P.E.I. Shellfish Association is looking for ways of turning the sea lettuce that is suffocating their harvest into a moneymaker.
Excess nutrients in many P.E.I. rivers are leading to gigantic blooms of sea lettuce. When the sea plant dies it coats the bottom, covering shellfish and making it difficult for them to feed. The rotting vegetation also sucks oxygen out of the water. The resulting anoxic conditions can also kill shellfish.
Some fishermen are working to rake sea lettuce out of estuaries, but that leaves the question of what to do with it. A new project would look at whether sea lettuce can be used as a biofuel. If it can, then fishermen could at least cover their costs to remove the sea weed.
Project manager Frank Hansen said they are working small scale right now, but shellfishermen need to do something.
"You know just a place to take the sea lettuce after it's harvested, it certainly would be a benefit," said Hansen.
"Hopefully we can save some of these systems down the road by removing the sea lettuce at this point and turn around that anoxic condition."
Hansen said he's still waiting to hear back from a company in Oromocto, N.B. to see if it will do the biofuel tests on the sea lettuce.
For mobile device users: Is using sea lettuce for biofuel a good solution for anoxic rivers?