PEI

Sea lettuce machine effectiveness questioned

Some P.E.I. communities question whether a sea lettuce harvester machine — currently on a trial run in P.E.I. — is enough to stop the problem algae.

Some P.E.I. communities question whether a sea lettuce harvester machine — currently on a trial run in P.E.I. — is enough to stop the problematic algae.

Crews are beginning a second sweep for sea lettuce along the North Shore using the harvester.

So far, the machine has been successful, according to Mike Cassidy, president of Transcon International, the company that brought the harvester to P.E.I.

Cassidy said it's now clearing the plant from the waters of private communities.

"The efficiency of the harvester is exactly what we would want in our part of the world where there's a sea lettuce problem," said Cassidy.

"It pleases me that there are stakeholders outside of the federal and provincial governments and associations where they can see the value of the harvester."

But some residents are worried it won't be enough to stop the aggressive algae.

The province — which gave Transcon $75,000 of funding in June to test the machine — indicated a harvester may not be able to keep up with growth, said Wanson Hemphill, coordinator for Friends of Covehead and Brackley Bay Watershed Management Group.

"Over the past 20 years we noted an increasing amount of sea lettuce," said Hemphill. "Faster growth seems to be each year. In that point, if it is growing faster than we can keep up with it then, maybe we're wasting our time by harvesting it, I'm not sure."

The province said it will evaluate the sea lettuce harvester in August.

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