The Prince Edward Island oyster industry, along with its famous Malpeque oysters, have earned a world-renowned reputation for their supreme quality, great taste, and can be found in fine dining establishments, oyster bars, and kitchens across the world.
- PEI oyster growers annually land approximately 2 million pounds of oysters at a value of $2 million.
- PEI cultured oysters are sold domestically in Quebec, Ontario, or exported to USA and other international markets.
- There are approximately 7,100 acres leased for oyster production with more than 580 lease holders, with 1,475 acres in suspended culture and 6,000 bottom culture.
Traditionally it takes 5 to 7 years for an oyster to grow to market size (three inches). By using off bottom and water column growing techniques, Island oyster growers are able produce the same size and quality of oyster in just 4 years. Also becoming popular are cocktail oysters, which are 2-3" in length and take 2 to 3 years to produce.
Oysters grown on the bottom are harvested with traditional tongs operated by hand from a dory. Off bottom and water column oyster growers can also harvest oysters with larger boats and hydraulic booms. After harvest, oysters are culled, cleaned and graded. Undersized oysters are placed back in the water to continue to grow. PEI cultured oysters are harvested all year round, even though the ice in Winter.
“They are good transitional oysters, bigger and bolder than Beausoleils or Kusshis, but still light-bodied and clean on the finish. Easy to eat, with the perfect balance of sweetness, brine, and pickle-like liveliness, they make great accompaniments to a pint of lager.”
(From: A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Oyster Eating in North America by Rowan Jacobsen)