Statement on shellfish enhancement program
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries today issued the following statement on its plan to deliver shellfish enhancement activities for 2017:
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has supported the oyster fishery for many years by providing funding to the PEI Shellfish Association to support shellfish enhancement activities. The main activity involved the collection of oyster spat which is grown and spread on public fishing beds. For the 2017 season, the department will undertake a different model.
The department will be issuing a Request for Proposals which will call for a contractor who will have to demonstrate its ability to source local oyster seed and to spread this seed on public fishing areas. The department will be seeking input on seed spreading locations from fishers active in the oyster fishery. In addition, industry representatives will be invited to observe the enhancement activities when they occur.
The department will be contacting an independent monitoring body that will assess the effectiveness of the enhancement activities. Once public fishing beds are identified for enhancement activities, the monitor will conduct an assessment of the bed. When the oyster seed is spread, the monitor will conduct a post-assessment to determine the effectiveness of the enhancement activities. The enhanced oyster beds will also be monitored in the long term.
The changes in 2017 come as a result of challenges the department had in finalizing the 2016 Shellfish Enhancement Program contract. As with any contract that involves the spending of public funds, the department requires documentation that indicates that the public funds were spent on the activities covered by the contract. This documentation including having the contractor provide the department with paid invoices and cancelled cheques. In the case of the 2016 Shellfish Enhancement Program contract the department did not receive the necessary documentation to close the contract.
Department representatives met with the Shellfish Association board and accounting authorities a number of times to try to address this issue.
The department also provided additional funding in 2016 for independent monitoring of the enhancement activities. This monitoring did not occur as the Shellfish Association did not sign the contract with the monitoring body. As a result the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries chose to move to a different delivery model for 2017.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries strongly supports the oyster fishery and is committed to working with fishers and their representatives in making the fishery more sustainable and viable.
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