Fishers of snow crab in area 17 were known, all in all, a good season.
June 8, 2020 18: 30
Updated at 23h42
A good season of snow crab fishing in area 17
MATANE — The fishers of snow crab in area 17, who took to the sea on the 25th of march, have so to speak completed their season. If the returns are uneven depending on the sectors, little egret agree however on one thing: fishing has been good.
The zone 17 extends from Trois-Pistoles, located in the Bas-Saint-Laurent, up to Rivière-à-Claude, in Gaspésie. On the North Shore, it is bounded between les Escoumins and Pointe-des-Monts. “The quota has been reached to 99 % at the end of may”, confirms the president of the Association of little egret in the area 17, René Landry. The little egret had until June 24 to meet their quota. But, some had completed their season on April 20.
“There are other sectors where it was more hard because of the currents,” says Mr. Landry. It is still very good, even if, compared to the previous year, it suffered a decline.” The fisherman Ian Chouinard also believes that the fishing has been good. “It was better in the beginning of the season. After that, it was a little more quiet, but it still went well.” With a global quota of 1277 tons, the crab harvesters from the zone 17 have been dealing with, this season, with a 42% decrease in total allowable catch.
For the fisheries coordinator of the First Nation of Essipit, the season was stretched a little more than that of the little egret of the south shore, the results of the activities of fishing are more mixed on the west side of the area to other places such as Matane, Baie-Comeau, quebec, or Rimouski. According to Peter Leonard, the situation is explained by the decrease in the total allowable catch. “With the containment measures of the crews, it was a bit more difficult to live, raises it. But, the fishing has followed its course and the season has fairly well been.”
Readjustments of the prices and conditions of fishing
A starting price is usually set at the landing and is readjusted at the end of the season. This year, a readjustment was added in mid-season, and a final rule is expected in December. For René Landry, the prices are not satisfactory. “What are the markets and the COVID-19 that lead! This is crazy! But, there is an advantage in snow crab because the inventories were at zero. The market is still good. This is not like the shrimp, where there are still large inventories. It is for this reason that the shrimp fishery has not started. This is not the same situation.” “The COVID has not helped us in some markets”, believes, for his part, Ian Chouinard.
The fishing conditions have, overall, been rather favorable. “It was very well during the first week of the launch, described the president of the Association of little egret. After that, it got cold and a little wind. But, this is not so bad, this year.” Peter Leonard tells the story: “We had a couple of episodes of storm as every spring and periods of current, but nothing memorable […]. It was windy and it was cold in the beginning of the season. But, on the North Shore and the Gaspé peninsula, it is necessary to expect that at the end of march!” Ian Chouinard has qualified, as to him, the spring of windy.
No cases of COVID-19 has not been detected within the fleet of the Association of little egret. Its president acknowledges, however, that, on a boat of 15 meters (50 feet), the rule of distancing physical was difficult to enforce for crews. The washing of hands did not, however, represented a challenge since the ships are equipped with sinks. “Everything went well,” says Mr. Landry. Even if he was anxious to comply with the precautions to curb the spread of the virus, the captain Chouinard admits that “it was not obvious”. “We are working in a place rather small. But, you had to really pay attention. We cleaned the boat all up and we applied all the possible measures.”
The crab quality
The little egret interviewed by The Sun are unanimous: the quality of the resource is outstanding. “Very nice crab,” says René Landry. In the categories, it was 1 and 2: crab clear, a nice size.” “It was beautiful, big and full,” says Ian Chouinard. Peter Leonard notes that “it was even better than last year.” “It was the crab residual, but it was the crab a nice size.”
On the side of the transformation, the industry is doing well. “In plants, it works well,” says the director general of the quebec Association of the fishing industry (AQIP), Jean-Paul Gagné. In the First Nation of Essipit, it is the same sound of a bell. “Mills are operating in our industry since the beginning, corroborates Pierre Léonard. There has never been a problem on the side of the buyers.”
Strong market demand
The demand for snow crab in area 17 was mainly related to the internal market, of which the big banners of the power supply. “It was the first area to open,” said Mr. Landry. The other areas have been open almost a month after the rest of us. It took a lot of crabs on the market in Quebec and a little bit of the american side. It has been a month and a week to dispose of our stock; there has been no problems. As is always the box to open first, it is sure that the processing plants have less misery to take our crab.”
The little egret of the First Nation of Essipit have also sold almost all of their catch on the quebec market. “In the beginning of the season, it has not even been able to completely meet the demand,” said Mr. Leonard.
The AQIP finds the same enthusiasm. “According to the report of the fishmongers, and they have never sold as many of the crabs,” said Mr. Won. It’s starting to be a tradition to buy crab as we buy the maple syrup. The prices were there and the people were willing to pay.” The rest of the stocks sold on the markets of the United States and Japan. If the demand on the american market is favourable, it remains no less that the market of the crustacean has suffered from the closure of the casinos and large chain restaurants such as Red Lobster, as by the discontinuation of the activities of the cruise industry.