Community Profile: Prince Edward Island Coastal Region

For generations, the production of blue mussels has sustained smaller communities along the northern and eastern coastlines of Prince Edward Island. The industry provides a year-round source of income and employment to local residents, and generates wealth across the region with its strong export market.

According to the Prince Edward Island Aquaculture Alliance, the PEI aquaculture industry paid approximately $11 million in salaries, wages, and employer contributions to the more than 1,500 people who worked in blue mussel production  in 2019.

Mussels in PEI are farmed using the longline system in 19 coastal areas, such as Malpeque Bay, St. Mary’s Bay, Hillsborough Bay, and Broughton River. Mussels are harvested during every season, including winter.  During ice-free months, in addition to harvesting activity, mussel farmers continually  care for their crop by regularly inspecting and cleaning the socks.

Mussels take 12 to 24 months to reach market size. Once harvested, mussels are transported to processing plants to be stripped from the sock, de-clumped, washed, and graded. There are seven provincially licensed and federally registered processing plants in Prince Edward Island where mussels are prepared and inspected prior to sale to the market.

The mussel is Canada’s top shellfish aquaculture export, valued at $55.9 million in 2019. PEI is largely responsible for this total, with Island exports worth approximately $45.8 million in 2019.

The total production volume of mussels was over 20,000 tonnes or 44.8 million pounds in 2019 – up from 100,000 pounds in 1980. The industry continues to be a vital contributor to the Island’s economy and the communities along the northern/eastern shores.

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