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Invasive species research projects get funding support


Charlottetown, PEI – Prince Edward Island’s Aquaculture and Fisheries Research Initiative, which is administered by the provincial Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Rural Development, recently approved three research projects dealing with invasive species. The projects were submitted by the PEI Aquaculture Alliance, the PEI Seafood Processors Association and the PEI Shellfish Association.

The PEI Aquaculture Alliance will work with staff of the department of fisheries, aquaculture and rural development to look into low-impact approaches to reduce tunicate fouling on mussel farms. The project will examine low-pressure washing of mussel socks in tunicate infested areas, the impact of having longlines sunk to various depths below the water surface and the impact of having socks touching the bottom of the estuary for extended periods of time to enhance predation of tunicates by crabs and starfish.

The PEI Seafood Processors Association will work with the NRC Institute for Nutri-sciences and Health (NRC-INH) to conduct a series of pre-discovery studies to look at the potential health-promoting activities of the bio-active compounds in the clubbed tunicate and the vase tunicate. NRC-INH researchers will conduct cell-based and enzymatic screening tests of tunicate extracts and subfractions to search for anti-inflammation, anti-diabetes, neuro-protective, wound healing and weight loss capabilities.

The PEI Shellfish Association, in partnership with the Atlantic Veterinary College, will investigate the size and structure of green crab populations in Bedeque Bay and North River and will determine the size ranges of oysters that are at risk from predation by green crabs. The aim of the project will be to propose various strategies to deal with green crab predation on oysters and, most importantly, determine what portion of the oyster population requires protection from the green crab.

“Projects such as these play a vital part in helping the shellfish industry adopt new practices in light of the marine invasive species we have in the province and allow the industry to become more competitive, profitable and sustainable,” said Allan Campbell, minister of fisheries, aquaculture and rural development.