Heavy rain shuts down most of P.E.I. shellfishery

Regular work on the leases will continue, but there will be no harvesting. (Submitted by Jacob Dockendorff - image credit)
Regular work on the leases will continue, but there will be no harvesting. (Submitted by Jacob Dockendorff - image credit)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has closed most of P.E.I.'s shoreline to shellfishing following record-breaking rains late last week.

Rain Thursday, from the remains of Hurricane Ida, broke records for Sept. 2 across P.E.I., and it was the rainiest day ever measured in Summerside.

On Saturday, DFO closed most of the shellfishery down. Bacteria from the land can wash into the ocean after heavy rain, contaminating shellfish.

"The closure due to the rainfall amounts that we saw really is precautionary," said Peter Warris, director of projects and industry liaison for the P.E.I. Aquaculture Alliance.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Department of Fisheries and Oceans

"It stays in place for at least seven days, and it basically means that they can't harvest shellfish from those areas."

The water will be tested this week, and if those tests come back clean the shellfishery will be reopened.

Regular maintenance will be continued on the water, said Warris, but there will be no harvesting. Many shellfish farmers would have been out in advance of the storm, he said.

"When they are aware that we're going to see, like, a heavy rainfall like we did from Ida, then there will be some probably more pre-harvesting just to make sure that they have stock on hand," he said.

Climate change is expected to make heavy rainfalls more common, said Warris, and that is a reality that shellfish growers know they are going to have to deal with.

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