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New Programme to Boost Oyster Production

CANADA - A new programme to strengthen oyster production from aquaculture operations has been announced by Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development Minister Allan Campbell.

The Quality Oyster Aquaculture Programme will provide financial incentives to produce quality oysters on leases.

"This exciting new programme is aimed at providing support and incentives for oyster aquaculturalists to increase production and improve quality through the adoption of techniques or technologies used to produce oysters on their leases," said Mr. Campbell.

"The programme will result in increased private sector investment and the development of new job opportunities in the aquaculture sector."

Under the programme, aquaculture operations are eligible for 50 per cent of expenditures to a maximum of C$10,000. Eligible expenditures may include new or modified equipment used in seed collection, nursery and growout operations and harvesting.

The proposed project must demonstrate an expansion of oyster production that will assist in increasing landings and quality.

Oysters produced from aquaculture operations account for about 30 per cent of total production in Prince Edward Island.

In 2007, Prince Edward Island fishers and growers landed approximately 6.2 million pounds of oysters. The economic value of oyster production in the province is more than C$13 million annually, and some 1,100 people are employed. Oysters are the primary industry in many rural coastal communities.

Mr. Campbell said that the department will also be dedicating additional resources to the Prince Edward Island Shellfish Association to enhance production of oysters on the public fishing grounds. Provincial support for the enhancement program in the public oyster fishery will be increased to C$100,000 this year, and the department will continue to assist the enhancement effort through oyster spat monitoring and shellbed cultivation projects.

"Some public grounds have experienced higher mortality this past winter which needs to be addressed, and at the same time, we must strengthen support to oyster aquaculture to ensure that the industry can continue to grow and develop," said Mr. Campbell.

"Prince Edward Island oysters have an international reputation, and we must continue to pursue all opportunities to strengthen the level and quality of our production."

The new Quality Oyster Aquaculture Programme will be funded over the next four years.