The fall oyster season began on Sept 15, and unlike the spring season, which saw delay after delay, things seem to be going well so far.
“We didn’t have a lot of buyers buying in the spring, but as far as I know, they’re all buying this fall,” said Bob MacLeod, president of the PEI Shellfish Association. “Nobody has said anything about not having a buyer, so everybody has a buyer as far as I’m concerned.”
Mr MacLeod said in terms of quality, the spring season was probably better than what fishers are seeing right now.
He’s noticed more standard grade oysters this season than choice grade, but the fact that all fishers seem to have buyers means the product is actually getting sold. Of the 340 active fishers in the spring season, between 80 to 100 of that number didn’t have a buyer.
One fisher, Jamie Perry, agrees the fall season has been better for oyster fishers so far.
“Demand is good, I don’t know how much longer it’s going to keep up, with COVID starting up again,” he said, referring to the second wave of the pandemic, which seems to have begun in other parts of Canada. “So far it’s good, but I see things are starting to shut down in Ontario and Quebec again.”
So far, the pandemic hasn’t impacted the fall season, though the market for buyers has fluctuated over the last few weeks.
As with lobster fishers, price is always a concern with oyster fishers. Last fall season, fishers received $10 for standard grade oysters, and $27 for choice grade oysters. This year they’re receiving $10 for standard grades and $25 for choice grades, though price can depend on who the fisher is selling to.
The fall season ends on the last day of November, but Mr MacLeod said he doesn’t see buyers continuing to buy up to that date, particularly now that the second wave of the pandemic is impacting things outside of the Atlantic Bubble.
“Before too long, with the numbers in Quebec, I’d say you’ll start hear tell of buyers that drop off,” he said. “The market has just been fair all year. Adding to the beds with the fall oysters, and the numbers in Quebec, they’re closing restaurants instead of opening them, you’re going to see the market drop off. I’m expecting to hear tell of buyers starting to finish up too, and I can’t blame them, I really can’t. They’ve got to make a living too.”
Both Mr MacLeod and Mr Perry hope fishers have a decent fall season, and that weather holds for as long as possible.