BEDEQUE -- The P.E.I. Shellfish Association is gravely concerned about the future of the public oyster fishery in this province and has called a press conference for Monday at the association-owned Hurd’s Point Trailer Park in Bedeque to outline its concerns.
The association is alarmed that the P.E.I. Aquaculture Leasing Management Board has allowed P.E.I. mussel growers to add a species to their leases.
Executive Director Greg McKee said 600 aces of mussel leases had been granted permission to transfer to oyster production since 2010 when a moratorium was quietly lifted. Since February of this year, he said, another 900 acres have been transferred for oyster production.
Approval is pending, he added, for 1,500 acres in Malpeque Bay to be transferred for oyster production.
McKee said it’s the oyster fishermen who rely on the public fishery who will be squeezed out, arguing adding more oyster production on leases will create a glut on the marketplace, one that grades oysters on size and shape rather than meat content.
“The ones who are going to be pushed out the bottom are the public fishers, which are the dories and the tongers,” McKee said.
“They just see their livelihoods getting pushed out, because this is all they have: they have a dory, a motor and they’re fishing,” McKee described. “That’s their life.”