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Oyster Crassostrea virginica
DFO Roles and Responsibilities
This is a five-year plan for 2000/2004 that covers the oyster fishery for Prince Edward Island.
Note: This plan is intended to operate in conjunction with an annual oyster harvesting plan in which specific harvesting guidelines such as species, seasons, etc. may be adjusted according to conservation requirements.
The oyster fishery in Prince Edward Island is a long established fishery that uses rakes and/or tongs to harvest oysters from the bottoms of tidal rivers, bays and estuaries. Oyster tongs are by far the most popular harvesting method and consist of a rake shaped piece of metal approximately 26-28 inches in width attached to a wooden handle normally 10 feet in length. Two of these are fastened together and are operated in a sissor -like fashion to remove the oysters from the bottom. These rakes and/or tongs are operated by hand from oyster dories averaging 12 to 14 feet in length.
Oysters are sold as a fresh product with the large majority marketed in the shell. A small part of the market is for fresh, shucked oyster packed in small containers in the own juice. Oysters are bought and sold according to grade that is determined by the shape of the shell, the three grades are choice, standard and commercial.
On Prince Edward Island there are two separate seasons requiring two separate licences for the commercial fishing of oysters. There is a spring fishery where the fishers harvest oysters from approved contaminated areas and the oysters are then sold to registered buyers who relay the oysters to leases in clean water areas to cleanse themselves before being marketed. The fall fishery is conducted in the public fishing areas (clean water) around Prince Edward Island and the majority of the oysters are sold directly to buyers, however some fishers sell oysters directly to the public. In addition to the commercial licenced fishery there are a number of privately held oyster leases around Prince Edward Island. These leases are granted to individuals and/or companies for a defined area of water/bottom of the tidal rivers, bays and estuaries. The oysters on these leases are also fished using rakes and/or tongs and some leaseholders also use small drags, which they tow behind their dories. The oysters harvested from these leases are sold to buyers or marketed directly to the public. Cultured oyster spat collection licences are also issued to fishers. Oyster spat is collected for the purpose of culturing or further growing of the oysters and this is accomplished by suspending material in the water column to which the oyster spat adhere. There is also a recreational oyster fishery during the fall (clean water) fishery. The oysters in this fishery are harvested using rakes and/or tongs and are for the personal use of the recreational licence holder only.
There are 909 contaminated (spring) commercial oyster licence holders in Prince Edward Island. In the fall fishery there are 1077 commercial oyster licence holders for the clean water public fishing areas. Also for the fall oyster season there are 29 recreational oyster licence holders. There are 122 cultured oyster spat collection licences issued in Prince Edward Island. There are 458 leaseholders on Prince Edward Island having a total of 698 oyster leases with a combined acreage of 6301.7 acres. These leases range in size from 0.25 acres to 196 acres.
The majority of commercial licence holders and cultured oyster spat collection licence holders on Prince Edward Island reside in Prince County. The majority of the recreational licence holders reside in the Charlottetown area and the majority of oyster leases are located in Prince and Queen Counties.
The Aboriginal communities on Prince Edward Island are also issued communal commercial oyster licences. The Lennox Island First Nation is issued 2 contaminated (spring) and 11 fall communal commercial oyster licences. The Abegweit First Nation is issued 9 fall communal commercial oyster licences and the Native Council of P.E.I. is issued 12 fall communal commercial oyster licences. The Lennox Island First Nation is also issued a quota of 10,000 lbs. of smelt for food, social and ceremonial purposes.
On Prince Edward Island there are 11 registered oyster processor/buyers.
The oyster fishery on Prince Edward Island is undertaken from the bottom of the tidal rivers, bays and estuaries throughout the province. During the contaminated (spring) oyster fishery the area with the heaviest concentration of fishing is the Bedeque Bay area which would include the Wilmot and Dunk Rivers. The contaminated portion of the Hillsborough (East) River would follow this area. The fall (clean water) fishery is heavily concentrated in the West River, followed by the clear water portion of the Hillsborough (East) River. The recreational fall oyster fishery is concentrated in these same two areas as well. Oyster spat collection is concentrated in the Bideford River and the areas with the greatest concentration of oyster leases are Foxley River, Conway Narrows and Hillsborough (East) River.
The season for the spring oyster fishery is May 1 to July 15. The fall oyster fishery and the recreational fall oyster fishery has a season from September 15 to November 30. Leaseholders are allowed to harvest off their leases from August 1 to April 30. During the open seasons noted above there are weekly close times from sunset to sunrise from Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday. Oyster spat collection licences are valid from June 28 to December 31. The aboriginal communal food fishery is from January 1 to December 31.
|YEAR||LANDINGS (kg.)||VALUE ($)|
*Note that 1999 data is preliminary and subject to change.
Consultations with clients are carried out in a number of ways using both formal and informal processes. The oyster fisheries are covered under the Prince Edward Island Shellfish Advisory Committee. The PEI Shellfish Advisory Committee is chaired by Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans and only meets as issues come up which needs industry feed-back (at least once per year). Representation is listed below:
The spring, fall and recreational oyster fisheries are managed by effort controls. The most significant are as follows;
The oyster leaseholder fishery is managed by effort controls as well. The most significant are as follows;
The oyster spat collection fishery is also managed by effort controls that are as follows;
The American Oyster is a bivalve mollusc found in shallow water embayments (from mid-intertidal to 20m) from the Gulf of Mexico to its most northern distribution in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The sexes are separate but with sex ratios changing with age (protandry). Optimal sex ratios of males: females are observed at lengths >70mm. Sexual maturity is often reached at lengths >25mm. Spawning occurs in individuals with ripe gonads at water temperatures greater than 20 degrees Celsius with the external fertilization of eggs. The planktonic larval stage lasts 3-4 weeks followed by metamorphosis and spat settlement onto hard (usually calcareous) substrates (or cultch).
The principle public fishing areas on PEI are located in Bedeque Bay with secondary areas in East and West River. Smaller tertiary beds occur throughout the Island.
It is know that recruitment into the public fishery generally takes 6-7 years and that it is sporadic and unpredictable from year to year.
There are so many enemies, diseases, and other calamities that -afflict this bivalve. The natural predators of the oyster are starfish, mud and rock crabs, lobsters as well as man. Various protozoans and microbes cause disease, and a host of associates compete for space.
Information on the success rate of artificial spat collecting, used for both acquaculture and public bed enhancement, can be used as an index to natural recruitment to the wild beds. There is sometimes, however, little correlation between the two because of the poor condition of suitable bottom substrates (silt covered) of public beds that have not sustained the fishing effort of a spring fishery or bed enhancement activities to work the beds and expose fresh materials to spatfall. Consequently, the presence or absences of a spring relay fishery is an important factor influencing annual recruitment and population dynamics. A fall fishery is equally important to re-work the bed prior to winter freeze-up and overwintering.
Oyster monitoring network (started in 1996). The goal of this project is to set up a monitoring network in the most important areas of molluscan aquaculture in the Gulf Fisheries Region, to collect standardized information on growth, mortality and quality (physiological condition) of an index species (Crassostrea virginica) in relation to environmental conditions (mainly temperature, salinity, and chlorophyll). This network will also provide an important data source for other related or unrelated research or monitoring activities. The documentation and distribution of the data collected from this network will become an important element of this program. The main objective of this project thus becomes the initiation of a monitoring network with the establishment of a documentation and distribution system over to the next two years. It is hoped that the continuation of the monitoring network will then become an industry-government partnership programs.
There is also some work started on a research project on oyster enhancement.
Population abundance and available fishable biomass should stay at current levels. Available background information is available in Stock Status Assessment Secretariat Research Document #96/105E.
Long term objectives for the oyster fisheries include the following:
There are no international considerations in this fishery as a Canadian fleet within Canadian waters fishes it.
The fishing seasons for the oyster fisheries are listed below.
The fishery is controlled and monitored by fishery officers in vehicles, small boats, ATV’s and on foot patrols. Fishing gears, licences and catches are checked to ensure compliance and that only licenced fishers partake in the commercial and recreational fisheries.
There is no quota assigned to the oyster fishery. It is managed by effort controls (i.e. seasons, # of licences, etc.).
All individuals participating in the licenced oyster fisheries must be registered as commercial fishers. Licences must be renewed on an annual basis. Fishers can hold a licence for the spring or fall fishery or both. A fishers holding both licences cannot split these licences but both licences can be swapped with a fisher who is only licenced for the spring or fall fishery.
Fisheries Act, Fishery (General) Regulations, Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations, Management of Contaminated Fisheries Regulations, Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations and Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program.
Conservation and Protection on PEI are tasked with ensuring regulatory compliance of a large number of fishers that participate in a contaminated fishery in the Spring, an open public fishery in the Fall as well as a limited summer fishery from leased areas. With the potential of contaminated shellfish reaching the open market this is a very demanding fishery especially so with our limited resources and other on-going fisheries.
The main activities in this fishery involve:
Pre-season -- Posting of contaminated areas with continual monitoring of signage throughout the season to ensure public awareness as well as checking for out of season fishing activity.
Inseason -- Activity here includes monitoring for size limits, season, weekend closures, open/closed areas, by-catch of other species and fishing in areas leased to others.
Fishery Officers conduct patrols using small vessels, ATV’s, motor vehicles and on foot to check compliance of above program activities.
On several occasions the use of Coast Guard helicopter by Fishery Officers has resulted in successful prosecutions but because of the cost factor very few air patrols are conducted.
Management Plan Evaluation Criteria
Conservation & Protection Plan Evaluation Criteria
Terms of Reference for Prince Edward Island Working Groups
DFO Roles and Responsibilities
Conservation and Protection
|Name||Groups||Tel. Number||Fax Number||E-mail Address|
|Hank Scarth||Area Director||(902)566-7810||(902)email@example.com|
|Jim Jenkins||Chief, Resource Management, PEI||(902)566-7815||(902)firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Peter Zahrndt||Chief, Conservation and Protection||(902)566-7793||(902)email@example.com|
|Thomas Landry||Science Branch, Moncton||(506)851-6219||(506)firstname.lastname@example.org|