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The Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) has a long history of production in Prince Edward Island.  The Island is the second largest oyster producing province in Canada and the largest oyster producer in Atlantic Canada.  Oysters are harvested from the majority of rivers, bays and estuaries around the Island; however, the western portion of the Island is home to the majority of oysters. The Island industry is unique in that our oyster harvest comes from both our long standing and storied public fishery, as well as a new and developing cultured oyster industry.  In 2014 there were 7.3 million pounds of oysters harvested at a landed value of 9.9 million dollars.

What is oyster aquaculture?

The oyster aquaculture industry has seen encouraging development over the last decade and includes culture on both bottom and off-bottom (surface) leases. There are multiple growing techniques and varying types of gear utilized by the industry, however, recently the utilization of gear that floats near the surface has become the aquaculture industry standard.  Currently, there are 820 oyster culture sites accounting for a total of 7,296 acres of oyster leases.

Aerial view of body of water. Small inlets and land protrusions appear on the left and right side of the picture. Oyster leases are visible in the centre of the picture and to the right. They appear as a series of floating buoys and gear.
Image caption: 
Aerial view of Lennox Channel in western PEI, where surface culture of oysters can be observed.


How do we grow oysters on the surface?

1. Spat Collection

Two young men, wearing ball caps and long gloves, are dipping a series of small round plastic discs into a trough filled with a cement and lime mixture.
Image caption: 
Pipe collectors being dipped in a concrete mixture.


Close-up of oyster collectors. Six collector pipes are shown that have small oysters attached. The pipes appear as a brownish-yellow colour.
Image caption: 
Once oyster larvae attaches to the collector it is called spat or seed.


2. Harvesting Seed

Four men, dressed in rain gear, are shown operating a mechanical oyster grading system near a body of water. Small oyster seed is being delivered to small bins via three different conveyor belts.
Image caption: 
Spat collectors are harvested and the seed is removed.


3. Oyster Grow-out

Two rows of floating cages are visible. One row appears in the background near the shore and the other is a close-up of the oyster gear. Each floating cage consists of wire framework, which is underwater, and two black plastic floats.
Image caption: 
Multiple vexar bags, filled with oyster seed, are placed within a cage with flotation.


There are a series of large wooden stakes that have been driven into the bottom of the shallow river. The stakes are positioned in straight lines. The line of stakes closest has many plastic bags lifted out of the water.
Image caption: 
Oyster bags are attached to lines that are hung from wooden stakes.

Three rows of floating plastic oyster bags are visible. The shoreline, with grass and trees is visible in the background
Image caption: 
Seed oysters are placed in single vexar bags.


4. Maintanance

Close-up of two large oyster cages. They appear as a large wire structure that is out of the water and resting on two large black floats.
Image caption: 
Algae and other fouling organisms are controlled by air drying the equipment and crop.


5. Harvest and Grading

Green coloured oysters are being washed with water. They are sitting on a metal sheet with round holes cut in it.
Image caption: 
Oysters are washed and graded for size and shape prior to going to market.


Date de publication : 
le 8 Février 2016
Pêches, Tourisme, Sport et Culture

Renseignements généraux

Ministère des Pêches, du Tourisme, du Sport et de la Culture
Immeuble Shaw, 3ème étage (nord)
105, rue Rochford
C.P. 2000
Charlottetown (Î.-P.-É.) C1A 7N8

Téléphone : 902-368-5956