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PEI aquaculture ditching styrofoam buoys


June 24, 2021
By Liza Mayer
Styrofoam is one of the biggest components of marine debris from the shellfish aquaculture sector Photo: Walter A. Aue/Flickr

A new pilot project in Prince Edward Island, Canada will replace styrofoam buoys used in the aquaculture industry with an environmentally friendly version, with financial help from the provincial government.

Styrofoam comprises 28 percent of the visible ocean debris per a United Nations study, and it is one of the biggest components of marine debris from the shellfish aquaculture sector. 

The PEI initiative will work with identified stakeholders in the aquaculture industry to remove approximately 40,000 buoys made of polystyrene (popularly known as styrofoam) and replace them with buoys made of more durable and environment friendly materials.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with the aquaculture industry on this project to help fund an innovative, cost-saving product that also benefits our waterways and the surrounding ecosystem,” said Fisheries and Communities Minister Jamie Fox, in announcing the Expanded Polystyrene Replacement initiative.

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“Our hope is that this program will continue to grow so we can eventually replace the millions of polystyrene buoys that exist in our waterways.” 

Delivered by the PEI Aquaculture Alliance, the program requires a minimum replacement of one polystyrene buoy for every new buoy. The Alliance covers 50 percent of the costs of the replacements as well as the fees associated with disposing the old buoys.

“The PEI Aquaculture Alliance is extremely grateful this this provincial initiative, which will accelerate the replacement of existing polystyrene flotations with newer more environmentally friendly alternatives,” said PEI Aquaculture Alliance Executive Director Peter Warris.  

“All island aquaculture operations are committed to minimizing shoreline waste, and these new buoys will assist in that as they are more durable and less likely to breakup.”

The Department of Fisheries and Communities will work with Island Waste Management Corp to ensure the proper collection, storage, and disposal of buoys for the project. 


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