Missing oysters could make consumers sick, officials warn

The P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance wants to make the public aware about missing oysters that could lead to illness.

Fish could be contaminated

The P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance says never to buy fish from an unlicensed vendor. (Shutterstock)

The P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance is warning the public about missing oysters that could lead to illness.

After Dorian hit P.E.I., the alliance was checking in with its members about damage and heard about the missing shellfish. 

A fisherman reported he was cleaning up Sunday on the North Shore and piled some bags of oysters on shore but when he returned Monday morning the oysters were gone, says Peter Warris, director of projects and the industry liaison with the alliance.

Warris said there was no way to tell if the oysters were contaminated, but he said it is never a good idea to consume or buy shellfish from an unlicensed processor or vendor. 

He said he didn't know the exact amount of loss to the fishermen, but said there were multiple bags.

Possible health concern 

On Monday, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans closed a large number of shellfishing areas in the Maritimes.

On P.E.I., that meant all waters within three kilometres of the coast are closed, including all of Prince County and a portion of Queens County from the Prince County border at Wrights Point near Victoria to Duchess Point in Charlottetown. 

The closures were put in place for the safety of fishermen and to protect people from buying and eating contaminated shellfish.

All their gear and cages and bags washed about and washed up onshore and tangled up.— Peter Warris

"All the shellfish that our members produce go through very stringent and careful process to make sure that you know everything's good quality when it reaches the consumers."

Help finding gear 

Warris said loss of gear from the storm is also top of mind for the industry. 

"Some of them have seen significant damage, all their gear and cages and bags washed about and washed up onshore and tangled up," he said.

Warris is encouraging anyone who sees gear to report it to the alliance by phone or on its Facebook page, so the fishermen can retrieve it. 

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Natalia Goodwin

Video Journalist

Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.