Food In Canada

PEI students help fix oyster industry problem

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Food In Canada Processing Research & Development Seafood oysters University of Prince Edward Island

A piece of equipment created by engineering students at the University of PEI will help take the back-breaking labour out of oyster production

fresh oysters plate isolated on white wooden background

Charlottetown, PEI ā€“ Students at the University of Prince Edward Island have developed a piece of equipment that will make oyster growing a whole lot less labour intensive.

In a story on the university’s website (“SSDE students flip oyster problem into a business opportunity,” on Oct. 4, 2017), UPEI explains that “farmed oysters, which are grown in cages weighing up to 200 pounds each, need to be

Pictured are left to right: SSDE students Jordan Sampson, Brett McDermott, and Dylan MacIsaac.
Photo: Courtesy of the University of PEI

turned once to twice per week during the growing months for an average of five years.”

Some farms may have anywhere from 200 cages to thousands of them.


So growers look for employees strong enough to handle the job for up to 10 hours per day, says the story.

The job of cage turning helps to “discourageĀ mussels, barnacles and algae build-up, which lets water circulate better and more food reach the oysters. This results in more appealing oysters that can garner higher prices.”

The students in the School of Sustainable Design and Engineering (SSDE) at UPEI developed “specially designed equipment that gently guides the oyster cage in a roller coaster-like flip,” says UPEI.

The students are Jordan Sampson, Brett McDermott and Dylan MacIssac.

According to UPEI, the industry has welcomed the news of the invention. It removed the “back-breaking labour” from the job; saves time and money; and will help address staff shortages.

An independent PEI-based company, Synapse Inc., has stepped up to help the students turn their invention into a marketable product. The company helps transfer expertise and knowledge from the UPEI into products, services, and insights that offer benefits beyond the university.

The students have filed for patent, start-up funds and will soon incorporate their company.

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