Mussel Researchers Tackle Invasive Species
Scientists this week are convening to discuss solutions for Prince Edward Island mussel farmers battling four species of tunicates, an invasive species.
The tunicate, also known as the sea squirt, competes with the shellfish for food, slowing mussel growth. The saclike animal is also a filter feeder that forms dense mats on the sea floor.
Jeff Davidson of the University of Prince Edward Island is working with other scientists at the Crowbush Resort in Charlottetown to set up a portable lab and test new treatments to kill the species, which became a problem just a few years ago.
"We're also doing trials in the field, both clinical trials with treatment and observing what the mussel growers are doing, to be able to determine whenâ??s the best time to treat, how many times to treat and get a model we hope, at the end," says Davidson.
Tunicates will never be eradicated from P.E.I. waters, says Davidson, but added that scientists and mussel growers are beginning to earn some victories.
The United States imported about 21.7 million pounds of live mussels from Canada in 2007, a 12.6 percent increase from 2006.