Shellfish season delayed to May 18 as harvesters hope for better market

Shellfish season on P.E.I., which includes oysters, quahaugs and soft shell clams, will be delayed until May 18.

Lobster season delay previously announced

Bob MacLeod, president of the P.E.I. Shellfish Association, says he is happy with the delay. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

Shellfish season on P.E.I., which includes oysters, quahaugs and soft shell clams, will be delayed until May 18, says the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The season was scheduled to start on Friday.

Bob MacLeod, president of the P.E.I. Shellfish Association, said fishermen requested the delay because the pandemic has created uncertain markets for luxury seafood products, with dining rooms across North America closed. He said they would also like to review the start date on May 11, to see if it should be changed to reflect market conditions at the time.

"The reason why we applied for the delay was that there's no market, there's no market for shellfish," he said. 

"So that was the purpose of delay and we wanted to further review depending on market conditions, whether the season would open or not."

MacLeod said if market conditions don't improve over the next two weeks, the start should be pushed back further.

In a statement to CBC, DFO said the P.E.I. Shellfish Association is "absolutely welcome" to submit a new request to re-evaluate the decision closer to the date of the opening.

MacLeod said if there is no spring season, most fishermen will need some sort of financial assistance until the fall season in September. 

Earlier this week, DFO announced that the lobster season would be delayed in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. It will start May 15.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Travis Kingdon and Kevin Yarr


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