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P.E.I. oyster growers group president says industry not eligible for insurance

Aquaculture infrastructure is piled at Gordon’s Wharf in Cascumpec to await removal while fishermen race against time in freezing temperatures to get their shellfish leases ready for a winter that came too early.
Aquaculture infrastructure is piled at Gordon’s Wharf in Cascumpec to await removal while fishermen race against time in freezing temperatures to get their shellfish leases ready for a winter that came too early. - Eric McCarthy

ALBERTON, P.E.I. - Oyster growers are not eligible for any compensation for damage the early ice is causing to their equipment says Shawn Cooke, president of the Island Oyster Growers Group.

“It’s an expense,” he said, noting the industry is not eligible for crop insurance.

“You can be as big of an operation as you want. You can lose everything. You can lose a percentage and there’s nothing. There’s no guaranteed yield. There’s no safety net in it at all. You can be fully invested in this business and get wiped out.”

Growers have a responsibility to keep their leases identified with corner buoys until the public fishery closes on November 30, but Cooke said there’s hardly a buoy left in sight. He said most of those have been pulled from their moorings by drifting ice. Gear that gets moved around by the ice, he said, could end up getting tangled up in gear that has been sunk for the winter.

Both Cooke and Nick Coughlin, owner of Cage Commander, a company that works with the industry members to sink oyster cages for the winter, suggest the gear and rope being moved around by early ice could cause safety concerns until the rivers are completely frozen over and again after next spring's thaw.

Related: P.E.I. oyster growers grappling with early winter

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