Why did station close in Ellerslie?
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,