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magazine / oct09

October 2009 issue


Surf’s bounty
Prince Edward Island’s Irish moss industry has been dwindling for years, but there may be new hope for the versatile seaweed — and for the island’s few remaining mossers
Photography by Robert vanWaarden with story by John DeMont

He knows it’s an odd way to look at the world, but a wrath-of-God-style storm just makes Carl Doucette’s day. For 52 years, he has waited for the bad weather to pass so that he can head out into one of two harbours near his hometown on the western tip of Prince Edward Island to harvest the Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) dislodged from the ocean bottom.


“There used to be 250 to 300 people out there every time a nor’west wind hit,” says Doucette, 65. Now, most of the time, his is the only boat in the water. There’s not a single horse in the surf hauling basket-shaped scoops to gather the ropy red seaweed. It’s equally rare to see anyone on the beach collecting by hand the “storm toss” washed ashore by waves.

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