The PEI mussel industry is once again back on the water and able to supply their famous mussels after an unprecedented winter on Prince Edward Island.
This past winter, however, brought record snowfalls to Prince Edward Island with over 18 feet (551 cm) being accumulated in some areas. The weight of this snowfall affected the ice conditions and made harvesting extremely difficult.
“Ensuring the safety of our farmers and employees was first and foremost as ice conditions were constantly changing”, said Linda Duncan, Executive Director of the Mussel Industry Council of PEI. “This made keeping up with full production a significant challenge for everyone.”
Despite all the challenges this past winter, consumers recognized the harvesting difficulties and were very understanding that production was being limited.
“Mussels are one of the most popular dishes we offer, and we always serve the freshest mussels from Prince Edward Island”, said Jon Hebert, Executive Chef of The Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire. “There was only one option to us, which was to take them off our menu until supplies returned, because it’s very important to me to serve only the best mussels we can.”
It is this level of customer loyalty that members of the PEI Mussel industry will remember the most from this past winter.
“Our industry has seen a huge outpouring of support from our customers, and they recognized the elements were out of our control”, she added. “Restaurants adjusted menus and educated their customers on supply, and they are now very delighted that we’re on the waters once more.”
With temperatures rising to break up the ice, and winds working to push remaining ice out of the harbours, the industry is now back to full production and able to meet the waiting demand.
“We certainly hope to not have a winter like this any time soon”, said Mrs. Duncan. “But if we do, it’s great to know that our customers are supportive, and then so eager to get our PEI Mussels back on their plates.”
PEI Mussels are the top selling mussel in North America, with a yield of over 50 million pounds (22,730 tonnes) harvested annually. The PEI industry represents 80% of Canadian mussel production.
PEI Mussels are rope-grown and harvested all-year round. Typically, fresh mussels are farmed, processed and shipped to major North American destinations in under 72 hours even when the waters are covered with ice.