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September 17, 2004
For immediate release

Shellfish Industry Members Recognized

Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Forestry

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Two pioneers of the Prince Edward Island shellfish industry were honoured Friday for their long-standing contributions to this important sector of the Island economy.

Kennie MacWilliams of Stratford and Vernon Paugh of Bideford are this year’s recipients of the Provincial Minister’s Shellfish Recognition Awards. Kevin MacAdam, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry, presented the awards during the opening of the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival.

“This award is designed to give much-deserved recognition to people like Mr. MacWilliams and Mr. Paugh who have been instrumental in developing the quality reputation PEI shellfish enjoys around the world,” the minister said. “It is their hard work and dedication that has made the shellfish industry grow to become such an important part of our Island economy.”

Kennie MacWilliams

As a shellfish buyer, Kennie MacWilliams has contributed to the livelihood of hundreds of fishers and their families, as well as plant workers and his community. Mr. MacWilliams began his career in the shellfish industry with the provincial Department of Fisheries in the 1970s. He conducted inventories and developed maps of all the major shellfish producing estuaries in PEI, and participated in numerous projects to rebuild oyster stocks that had declined in the 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1980, Mr. MacWilliams left the public service and purchased a processing plant at Webster’s Corner on the East River, establishing his company, Kennie MacWilliams Seafoods Ltd., which is still active today. Mr. MacWilliams credits the dedication of the fishermen and the energy of his plant workers for his ability to stay in business the past 25 years. He has sold oysters, quahaugs and clams over most of North America and is respected for both the quality of his product and his word.

Mr. MacWilliams was instrumental in the development of the quahaug relay fishery which now involves hundreds of fishermen each spring. He has also served the industry through organizations such as the Queens County Shellfish Association and the PEI Seafood Processors Association, and has still found time to dedicate considerable hours each week to minor hockey and baseball in his community.

Vernon Paugh

Exposed to a life on the water at an early age, Vernon Paugh purchased an oyster fishing licence in 1960 and entered the fishery full time. He fished mainly in the Charlottetown area and, like many oyster fishers, he travelled to the oyster grounds and lived from a trailer during the fishing seasons.

Mr. Paugh served a decade as Secretary -Treasurer of the Prince County Shellfish Association in the late 1970s and 1980s, and contributed to many of the oyster development programs carried out to enhance the oyster industry over the years. One project in particular, to relay seed in Cascumpec, resulted in years of productive fishing for oyster fishermen.

From 1972-83, Mr. Paugh fished lobster with his brother Wyman, at Howard’s Cove, and then purchased his own lobster gear and fished until 1999. Feeling his fishing career should end after nearly 40 years on the water, he sold his licences in 1999. But after four years of reflection, Mr. Paugh decided that fishing was too important to him so he purchased an oyster licence in 2003 and is now back on the water. He likes the independence of being a fisherman, the scenic views while fishing on the water, and the good people involved in the industry.

The Provincial Minister’s Shellfish Recognition Awards are presented annually in conjunction with the Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival. This year’s festival was kicked off on CTV’s Canada AM Friday morning and continues at Peake’s Wharf in Charlottetown throughout the weekend. Highlights include cooking demonstrations, oyster shucking competitions, the International Prince Edward Island Shellfish Chef Challenge, as well as top Island entertainment and plenty of quality PEI shellfish to enjoy.

Revenues from sales of Island shellfish at the festival assist the festival hosts, the Prince Edward Island Aquaculture Alliance and the Prince Edward Island Shellfish Association, in the work they carry out on behalf of the industry.

Cutline: Kevin MacAdam, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry, right, presents the Provincial Minister's Shellfish Recognition Awards to Kennie MacWilliams, centre, and Vernon Paugh.

Media Contact: Richard Gallant
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