The Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie has asked the federal government to delay the opening of the capture until the 9th of may ; two weeks after the scheduled date.
April 10, 2020 18h34
All fishing in the uncertainty
CARLETON — The pandemic of COVID-19 retards not only the beginning of the fishing season the snow crab in the southern gulf of St. Lawrence, the same for the shrimp and the lobster in Quebec, but it creates an uncertainty that is unprecedented in the factories, on boats and at a price that everyone will receive.
In 36 years as a buyer of lobster and 11 years as a buyer, Raymond Sheehan, president of the company E. Gagnon et Fils, Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé, ensures never having seen such a crisis in the markets.
“We have seen years of hard, years of low prices, inventory levels, but a year closed, with wholesalers that do not offer a price, no one has ever seen it,” says Raymond Sheehan, whose company operates the largest factory of processing of snow crab in Quebec. It is also the biggest buyer of lobster in the Gaspé peninsula.
Mr. Sheehan is known that the closure of markets in the beginning of the season will not last, but he admits to being “nervous”. Between snow crab and lobster, it is the market of the lobster are worried about the most.
“It is a market of live products. The restaurants are closed. The president of Metro, said it would not buy lobster before the 9th of may, in anticipation of Mother’s day [10 may]. Me, I think it would be more realistic to delay until may 15. It would mean the tradition of lobster on Mothers day, but the economy would be more vigorous in mid-may, when we think of the judgment of the prime minister Legault, who is expected to last at least until may 4,” said Mr. Sheehan.
The Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie has asked the federal department of Fisheries and Oceans delay the opening of the capture until the 9th of may, two weeks after the scheduled date.
The crab: a test
The minister Bernadette Jordan has notably delayed the opening of the crab fishery in the southern gulf until 24 April, when all the world had taken steps during the winter to promote a seasonal launch on 10 April, in order to reduce interactions with right whales. The coronavirus has changed everything.
Raymond Sheehan is a little more optimistic about the current potential of the market crab. The area 17, in the estuary of the St. Lawrence, is open since a little more than two weeks. However, his quota is low, at 520 tonnes. That of zone 12, south of the gulf, is 60 times higher, at 32 000 tonnes. This will be the test markets.
“The supermarkets are telling us that if the price is reasonable, they will sell it. It is different in the crab because it is a product sold frozen in major markets. Inventories are zero in the United States, and we still had a good price for the small amount of area 17 that was sent there. But when it will get to blow 100 vans in Boston, this will be another case. It will have to be patient in the crab,” says Mr. Sheehan.
The plant of Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé is closed until April 17, approximately due to four cases of COVID-19 in the company that has hired 650 people in 2019. The management is hopeful that after two weeks off, the coronavirus has deserted the staff.
In the shrimp fishery, where the fishing begins around the 1st of April usual, patience will also be necessary, said Patrice Element, of the Office of the fishermen of a shrimp of the town of Gaspé. It was understood that the capture would not resume prior to the renewal of the Marine Stewardship Council certification, but the plants have not yet filed price to the fishermen.
“You don’t feel the excitement as usual. Fishermen are fearful for their health because of the state of the markets. When the processors say that they are not in a hurry, nobody shouts out,” says Mr. Element.