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Aquaculture Header

Aquaculture in Prince Edward Island has been very successful in raising mussels, oysters, salmon, and trout. These successes are inspiring research into the cultivation of shellfish, such as sea scallops, quahog, soft-shelled clams, and bar clams, as well as finfish, such as char, flounder, striped bass, haddock, and halibut. The Ellerslie Fisheries Station, owned by the Western Development Corporation, the University of Prince Edward Island’s Atlantic Veterinary College and Atlantic Fish Health Inc., offer a wealth of expertise, research and training. Numerous private sector parties such as Aqua Health Ltd., Wright Systems and Equipment, Charlottetown Metal Products, fibreglass companies, and aluminum shops, have also provided technological research and development support to this growing industry.

Lacking information about successful harvest techniques, the pioneers of the aquaculture industry were forced to use their own ingenuity in devising their mussel growing experiments. They eventually developed the method used popularly today, involving mesh stockings or “socks” that are filled with spat (or mussel “seed”) which are attached to ropes at 3 feet intervals and connected to buoys. The socks remain suspended for 12 to 14 months until they are harvested. At this time, each sock would yield from 30 to 50 pounds of mussels. Technological innovations have enabled winter harvesting of mussels. This has proven to be an important innovation because in winter, the market demand and mussel quality are both at their peak.
Processing Mussels
Today, the mussel industry represents the province’s second most important fishery, producing close to 9000 imperial tons per year, with an export value of $20 million and employing more than 650 full-time and part-time workers. Approximately 70 percent of cultured mussel production comes from farms along the east end of the Island, where estuaries tend to be drowned river valleys. The remaining 30 percent is produced along the Island’s north side in barrier beach lagoons.

Prince Edward Island oysters, the most famous of which is the Malpeque oyster (named for the bay in which it is so abundant), are exported to central Canada and around the world. Though the cultivation of oysters is a relatively new economic activity, Prince Edward Island fishers have been engaged in the oyster fishery for over 150 years. Presently, there are approximately 5,000 acres leased for oyster cultivation in the province and the oyster culture industry is expanding apace with the development of new techniques and technologies.

Finfish aquaculture is still in its early stages as an industry on the Island. Finfish hatcheries are currently active in producing eggs, fry, and fingerlings in salmonid species, for Arctic char, and for rainbow trout. These hatcheries are located primarily in eastern Prince Edward Island, Souris and Murray River, with one in North Wiltshire. Two of these hatcheries are also processors of Arctic char and rainbow trout.

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Lobster | Shellfish | Finfish | Specialty Markets