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Minister to Meet Oyster Industry

CANADA - Prince Edward Island Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development Minister Allan Campbell said his department will be meeting with oyster harvesters and dealers in the next two weeks to discuss reports of concerns about the quality of oysters produced in the province.

"Maintaining and strengthening the international reputation of Malpeque oysters is a major priority," said Mr. Campbell.

"While I am confident that we continue to market a high quality product, I take very seriously any concerns that are expressed which question the quality of that product."

There have been recent news reports which have raised questions about the size and shape of some oysters shipped from the province.

Mr. Campbell said he will be discussing the concerns about product quality with the industry and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to determine what steps should be taken to address them.

He said the oyster industry has worked hard over the years to establish its reputation and, that if additional measures are needed to improve quality, he is confident the industry will respond.

Mr. Campbell said his department is already working closely with harvesters to improve quality.

The department provides ongoing support to the Prince Edward Island Shellfish Association for oyster enhancement projects on public fishing grounds.

Earlier this year, the department introduced a new oyster quality aquaculture program to help leaseholders adopt new technologies and techniques to increase production and improve quality on leases.

"It is vitally important that we continue to meet the demands of the marketplace in a positive and responsible manner," said Mr. Campbell.

"There is growing competition in the marketplace, and we must ensure that we continue to maintain and strengthen the quality of our product."

The landed value of the Prince Edward Island oyster industry is approximately C$7.0 million. There are about 700 active oyster fishers. Between 20 and 30 per cent of landings are from aquaculture leases, and the remainder are from the public fishery.