Why did sta­tion close in Eller­slie?

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

Tyne Val­ley has just con­cluded an­other fan­tas­tic oys­ter fes­ti­val. The cel­e­bra­tion of the oys­ter is ded­i­cated to ev­ery­one who is in­volved in the in­dus­try and in par­tic­u­lar to the Malpeque oys­ter. These oys­ters were rec­og­nized for their ex­cel­lence in 1900 at the Ex­po­si­tion Uni­verselle, a world’s fair held in Paris, thus cre­at­ing a huge de­mand for Malpeque oys­ters.

Over-fish­ing and dis­ease in 1913 wiped out 90 per­cent of Is­land oys­ter beds, al­most dev­as­tat­ing the in­dus­try. Bi­ol­o­gist Dr. Al­fred Needler was hired by the fed­eral Depart­ment of Fish­eries to di­rect an oys­ter re­search fa­cil­ity in Eller­slie, along the Bide­ford River to try restor­ing the fish­ery. The lab and oys­ter grounds be­came the Eller­slie Bi­o­log­i­cal Sta­tion in 1930.

In mid-1930, an epi­demic oys­ter dis­ease swept the Mar­itimes. Dr. Needler had stored spat that he had col­lected be­fore the dis­ease struck. His dis­ease-re­sis­tant stock saved the in­dus­try in P.E.I. and across the Mar­itimes. The Eller­slie Bi­o­log­i­cal Sta­tion played a sig­nif­i­cant role in es­tab­lish­ing P.E.I.’s in­ter­na­tional oys­ter trade in the 20th cen­tury.

Tax­payer’s dol­lars sup­ported the col­lec­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion of oys­ter spat un­til this year. Eller­slie Bi­o­log­i­cal Sta­tion is now closed and all the equip­ment is gone. Per­haps MLA Paula Big­gar, the P.E.I. Shell­fish As­so­ci­a­tion and the P.E.I. Depart­ment of Fish­eries should ex­plain what hap­pened.

What hap­pened to last year’s spat col­lec­tion? No spat was col­lected this year. What hap­pens if dis­ease strikes?

There will be no spat spread­ing for at least two years. What will hap­pen to the stocks and the in­dus­try over­all?

Gary A. O. MacKay,

Birch Hill

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