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In Prince Edward Island, the most commonly fished molluscs and crustaceans are oysters, sea scallops, crabs, clams, and quahog. The waters of Malpeque Bay, west of Kensington are especially rich grounds for this fishery.

The oyster is a bivalve living in the Island’s warm, semi-enclosed bays and estuaries to a depth of about 30 feet of water. The valves are heavy chalky white and vary in shape and size accordingOysters to habitat. It takes oysters from three to five years to grow to market size. Traditionally, oyster fishers working from small boats scoop the oysters from the bottom of rivers and bays using long-handled tongs. Oyster fishing season in public areas begins with the commercial relay from May 1 until July 15. Commercial harvest then takes place from September 15 to November 30. Special permit harvesting occurs between May 1 and August 15. Private leasehold harvesting is from August 15 until December 31.

Increasing numbers of fishers are employing aquaculture techniques to expand productivity. New tools for collecting include Chinese hats, veneer rings, shells, and plastic or wood collectors. At the nursery stage, techniques include bottom spreading of seed, French-style rack and bag systems, floating trays, and longline suspended units. In bays and estuaries across the Island, private leaseholders are growing oysters from seed.

The sea scallop’s shells are round and held together by a small straight hinge. Young shells are often attractively coloured in radiant pinks and whites. Scallops are harvested by drags. Along the Island’s south coast, from Victoria Harbour to East Point or Zone 24, scallop fishing season is from October 13 until December 31. Along the north shore, from North Cape in the west to East Point (Zone 23), the season is from June 1 until December 31. In Zone 22, extending from North Cape south along the coast and then east to Victoria Harbour, the season begins on May 5 and ends on June 7.

Snow crab and rock crab are fished using traps. Snow crab season is from April until July. Rock crab seasons vary in each zone. Along the north shore, from North Cape in the West to East Point (Zone 24), the season is from July 5 until November 30. Zone 25, extending from North Cape south along the coast and then east to Victoria Harbour along the Island’s south shore, the season begins on October 15 and ends on November 31. From Victoria Harbour to East Point, rock crab season is from August 18 until November 30.

Soft-shell clams are commonly found in the river mouths, inlets, and bay beaches of Prince Edward Island. They are usually buried in sand or mud around mid-tide level. These molluscs have oval-shaped, long, thin, brittle shells that are chalky white in colour. Most harvested soft-shell clams are sold fresh in the shell but they can also be purchased fresh or frozen shucked as well as canned. In Prince Edward Island, they can be dug year-round using hand tools or during certain times of the year using mechanical harvesters.

Quahog can be harvested year-round using hand tools in mud bottoms at low tide. These molluscs have a thick, heavy moderately inflated shell with concentric growth lines. They are dull white in colour and range in size from 3.5 to 11 centimetres. Small quahog are sold fresh in the shell while the larger animals are sold as shucked meats that are minced and canned.

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Aquaculture | Lobster | Finfish | Specialty Markets