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Fishing HeaderFishing HeaderThe variety and abundance of fish and shellfish in Island waters has always been an extraordinary feature of Prince Edward Island and the waters that surround it—most notably cod, hake, halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, eel, lobster, oyster, and clam. Long before the arrival of European settlers, the Mi’kmaq of the Northeast Atlantic region came to the Island in summer in order to fish. Eventually, they established a few permanent settlements here. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, French fishers and hunters visited the Island (known to the French as Ile St. Jean) on a frequent but irregular basis.

During the eighteenth century, the European settlement of the Island was built around the fishery, with French businessmen establishing commercial fishing villages and engaging in the export of the rich sea harvest to be reaped in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Located near the eastern end of the northern coast of the province, the community of St. Peters was, for many years, the largest settlement on the Island, thanks to the rich fishery in the waters in and outside the bay.

The fishing industry has remained a vital contributor to Prince Edward Island and its growingNew London economy. Fishing and related activities employ thousands of Islanders and generate economic spinoffs for other local businesses. Fishing also plays an important role in rural Island communities, defining their heritage and way of life. Today, the fishery is a diversified and vital sector of Prince Edward Island’s economy, incorporating fishers, fish-farmers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers as well as boat and equipment dealers, equipment manufacturers, and researchers in technology and nutrition.

Glossary of Fish Species in Prince Edward Island.

Aquaculture is newest complement to the fishing industry. The cultivation of highly sought-after shellfish products, such as mussels and oysters, is a lucrative and environmentally sustainable fishery for Prince Edward Island.

It is frequently remarked that the first person to eat a lobster must have been awfully hungry! But Islanders are quick to point out that the lobster’s crusty exterior hides a sweet interior that pleases many palates.

The deep waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the multitude of sheltered bays and estuaries all along the perimeter of Prince Edward Island constitute an ideal habitat for many shellfish species, including scallops, crabs, oysters, clams, and quahog.

Prince Edward Island’s long history of inshore and offshore fishing makes the recent crisis of Atlantic Canada’s groundfishery all the more disruptive—to the economy, to people’s livelihood and to communities’ heritage.

Specialty Markets
The emergence of markets for carrageenan has been a boon to communities in Western Prince Edward Island. Old-fashioned methods are used to harvest the plants from which this substance necessary to high-tech food processing is extracted.