Province paying more to keep public oyster beds viable, association says

The province is going to have to pay more this year to make sure public oyster beds are seeded, according to the new P.E.I. Shellfish Association president.

P.E.I. government put out a request for proposals to buy from an oyster grower

The P.E.I. Shellfish Association says the province is concerned about the way the group has been managing its records. (Submitted by Jacob Dockendorff)

The new P.E.I. Shellfish Association president believes the province will be paying more this year to make sure public oyster beds are seeded.

Seeding of the public oyster beds is typically managed by the association, with about $100,000 in funding from the province.

Kenneth Arsenault, president of the P.E.I. Shellfish Association, said this year the province didn't provide funding, and is instead taking over the work, citing concerns about the way the group has been managing its record keeping.

"It's too late in the year for the association to do anything, but the province is going ahead with a project for this year," said Arsenault.

"That'll be it for this year. We have a lot of work over the winter to regroup and start fresh next year."

The province, meanwhile, said it does expect to be paying more, but would not comment on numbers since the tender process remains open.

Province put out a RFP

The province put out a request for proposals on Friday to buy approximately one-inch oysters from an oyster grower.

Kenneth Arsenault says the public oyster beds are part of a $10 million industry, employing roughly 600 fisherman throughout the year. (CBC)

The RFP closes Sept. 22, and once the contract is awarded, the association will help the province spread the oyster seed on the public grounds.

Keeping the beds afloat is necessary to keep P.E.I.'s $10 million wild oyster fishery afloat, Arsenault said. He said right now demand for oysters is out-stripping supply, and the fishermen and the industry don't want to lose ground.

Three priorities for fishery

In regrouping for next year, he added, there are three primary goals for the association — number one is "becoming financially stable again."

Other goals are getting oysters back on the public grounds, and getting the trust of the publish fishery back.

"I think it's going to be a good thing for the future of the industry," Arsenault said.

"There seems to be a lot more interest now from members and from fisherman to make sure stuff like this doesn't happen again."

With files from Laura Chapin