CARLETON – The commercial fishing season will likely start as planned, for fishermen and fish processing workers. That conclusion comes after an exchange between SPEC and two communication officers (one from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and one from Quebec’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food).
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) regulates the aspects related to quotas, fishing gear and the duration of the season (including start and termination dates). Quebec’s department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) deals with fish processing.
Pascale Fortin, spokesperson for DFO, explains that the particular context created by the covid-19 crisis has triggered discussions between the ministry and Quebec’s commercial fisheries’ stakeholders. “The preoccupations and worries of the fisheries stakeholders have been communicated to Minister (Bernadette) Jordan. Amongst those preoccupations, we see the weak state of the markets, the profitability of the enterprises and contamination during fishing and processing operations. For certain fisheries, it was convened with the industry and the Fisheries and Oceans ministry to open as scheduled, notably for seal hunting and snow crab fishing in zone 17,” explains Pascale Fortin,
“At the moment, no other decision has been made in regards to the cancellation or postponement of another type of commercial fishing in Quebec. Minister Jordan is in contact with the provincial ministers of fisheries. Other calls are scheduled with the Quebec fisheries stakeholders tomorrow (March 25),” adds Ms. Fortin, who concedes that things can move pretty quickly.
Zone 17 for snow crab covers the shore between Trois-Pistoles, west of Rimouski, and Sainte-Anne-des-Monts. The crab fishermen will be allowed to set their traps on March 25. Simon Bachand, MAPAQ spokesperson, mentions that “the fisheries are included in the list of essential services issued” by Premier François Legault on March 23 and that “the season can start as planned. All the food processing sector is considered an essential service.” Some of the snow crab caught in the Saint Lawrence River is processed in the Southern Gaspé processing plants.