Oyster fishermen will feel impact of smaller oyster seed
P.E.I. Shellfish Association says cages for oyster seed were left in poor condition
The head of the P.E.I. Shellfish Association says 2019 could be tough for Island oyster fishermen, due to smaller-than-usual oysters seeding the public beds.
"It'll just take that much longer for them to grow to harvest size," said president Kenneth Arsenault. "It'll take an extra year … the yields will go down."
He expects fishermen will feel the impact most in 2019.
"It means they're going to have to work harder," Arsenault said. "There's a chance that their income will go down."
Cages left in bad condition
Arsenault said one of the issues with the oysters is the cages weren't properly cleaned and aired out this summer.
The cages "weren't looked after all summer," Arsenault said. "They usually get flipped over. They air dry every two weeks. So they were left face down in the water all summer."
Seeding of the public oyster beds is typically managed by the association.
In August, the former president and a few other board members of the association resigned. A former director cited frustration with the provincial government over the program that enhances P.E.I.'s wild oyster fishery as the reason for the resignations.
Fishermen already feeling pinch
Arsenault said the industry is already feeling a pinch.
"It wasn't only this year … there were some spread last year but not the quantity that should have been and we're starting to see the effects of it."
Arsenault said 200 of 600 cages for oyster seeding have been spread so far this year — in Mill River and Cascumpec.
Seeding will continue over the next four to five weeks, Arsenault said.
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With files from Laura Chapin