Crab on our plates from Thursday
On Wednesday, in the wee hours of the morning, there was a lot of excitement on the docks, while snow crab fishing started in zone 17. A total of 23 boats set sail around 5 am with each one on board 85 traps. The popular crustacean can thus be found on our plates for dinner on Thursday.
“It was very good,” said the president of the Area 17 crab fishermen association, René Landry, speaking of the first day of fishing. The sea was calm like oil! It was wonderful!” Zone 17, which stretches from Trois-Pistoles in Bas-Saint-Laurent to Rivière-à-Claude in Gaspésie and des Escoumins in Pointe-des-Monts on the North Shore, is the first to be open to fishing with crab.
It remains to be seen whether the catch will be good when the fishermen raise their traps on Thursday, especially since they have to deal with a reduction in their quota of 43% compared to the previous year which, already, had shown a decrease in 25%. From 2230 tonnes last year, the total authorized catch increases to 1277 tonnes this season. “I can’t wait to see the landings,” says Landry. It was really difficult last year. 520 tonnes were not taken. This is unheard of!”
According to René Landry, crab fishermen are concerned about respecting the recommendations aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially since space on vessels is limited. “It is the captain-owner who has all the responsibility for that,” he explains. The fishermen wash their hands and when they work on the deck, they have gloves. If the captain sees that there is one who coughs or has a fever, he remains on the quay. It must not contaminate others! ” For the President of the Association, this is all the more important since fishing is only authorized for a limited period of time, not to mention that restrictions may apply in mid-June to protect right whales . The season closes on June 24.
Precisely to stem the spread of the virus, the Fishermen’s Association has exceptionally prohibited people from gathering on the quays to observe the departure of the vessels. “We put up a sign and there are blocks of cement, describes René Landry. They’re just the right people. ” But on Wednesday morning, a few recalcitrants defied the rules. “We had problems a little bit, but there was a barrier installed and the police appeared,” says René Landry. We are on the eve of putting a full-time person to control traffic. If it were not COVID-19, I, personally, as president, I would love it if the world came to see the fishermen! ”
“The fishermen wash their hands and when they work on the deck, they have gloves. If the captain sees that there is one who coughs or has a fever, he remains on the quay. It must not contaminate others! ”
– René Landry, President of the Area 17 Crab Fishermen Association
Impact of COVID-19 on the markets
The president of the Area 17 Crab Fishermen’s Association does not anticipate any impact of the coronavirus on markets and exports. “Food products have not been affected because the world will not stop eating and, as far as I know, marine products are good for health,” says René Landry.
Only 10 to 12% of the snow crab catches are intended for the local market. The balance of stocks is exported to Japan, China and mainly to the United States.
FISHERIES AND OCEANS MAINTAIN CAP
CARLETON – For the moment, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is staying the course with regard to the opening of the catches planned in the program before the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis.
“For certain fisheries, it has been agreed with the industry and the department to open on the scheduled date, in particular the seal hunt and the crab fishery in area 17. No other decision has been made yet as for the cancellation or postponement of a commercial fishery in Quebec. Minister [Bernadette] Jordan is in contact with provincial fisheries ministers, ”said Pascale Fortin, regional director of communications at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
She pointed out that the specific context characterizing the pandemic encouraged her department and the stakeholders of commercial fisheries in Quebec to communicate regularly. “The concerns and concerns of stakeholders in the fishing industry are conveyed to Minister Jordan. Among the main concerns of fishermen are the weakening of the market, the profitability of businesses and contamination during fishing and processing operations, ”she adds.
While Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for catch management, the Quebec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) oversees the processing industry. Simon Bachand, from the communications directorate of MAPAQ, points out that “fishing activities are included in the list of essential services. The season can therefore start as agreed […]. The entire food chain is considered an essential service ”.