Îles-de-la-Madeleine: a start-unusual for the lobster

Îles-de-la-Madeleine: un départ inusité pour la pêche au homard

Îles-de-la-Madeleine: un départ inusité pour la pêche au homard

Some 325 boats took off on Saturday for the launch of their cages.


May 9, 2020 18h52

Updated at 19h31


Îles-de-la-Madeleine: a start-unusual for the lobster

Îles-de-la-Madeleine: un départ inusité pour la pêche au homard

Îles-de-la-Madeleine: un départ inusité pour la pêche au homard

Johanne Fournier

Special Collaboration

For the first time in its 145-year history, the water of the cages, which marks the beginning of the lobster fishery in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, was conducted in a manner unusual. At 5 in the morning Saturday, because of the risk of the spread of the COVID-19, the docks where the community gathered traditionally for thousands of people to attend the grand departure of 325 boats, were deserted. No celebrations, no fireworks. To add to the singular character of the event, a boat has sunk before the great departure.

The most important port of the archipelago, is that of High-Input, captains have put the gas, once the signal is given. As usual, the stage gave place to an impressive ballet of ships loaded spinning straight off to go drop off their lockers. The weather being clement, the exit is announced safe.

To encourage the fishermen, some families and friends have observed the scene at a distance, while respecting the rules of distance physical. The other attended the departure of the ships broadcast live on the page Facebook of The sea on a plateau”, in collaboration with the radio of the Islands, CFIM. Crews are back out in the gulf on Monday to get their first shots.

Digital activities

The day before, the activity “The Appointment of the workers of the sea” has been presented live on the radio with the spokesperson of the event, Boucar Diouf, and the diver well-known Mario Cyr. Subsequently, the traditional crown of flowers was launched at the sea. This is a symbolic gesture to the memory of sailors lost at sea, is very important to the maritime community of Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The mass of the workers of the sea was then broadcast on the airwaves of CFIM. This moment of contemplation was the opportunity to highlight the addition of six new captains.

Also, to commemorate the 145th in the water of the cages, the organizing committee has launched a photo contest for the fishermen and fisherman’s helpers. The event, organized every year around the launch of the cages also aims to showcase the traditions of fishing, including traditional practices are perpetuated at the discretion of the technological advances.

Boucar Diouf, a spokesman

The spokesperson or “the guest at the watchman” which, due to circumstances, has ensured a virtual presence, thought that the water of the cages is “a ritual of communion between the fishermen and our nourishing sea”.

“Why not take the opportunity to eat lobster in Quebec?, queries Boucar Diouf in a video posted on the page Facebook of the event, under the theme “All in the same boat”. Why, as to choose the lobster, not to take it the best, is that of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine? It is a beautiful way to encourage an industry that is a victim, indirectly, like many others, of the virus. Eat the lobster from Quebec!”


At the beginning of the Saturday night, at a time when the lobster boats were preparing to go to sea, a boat sank at the dock. No one was injured. The self-help madelinienne was quick to bail out of the ship and to recover traps. “There were twenty guys who were helping to tow the boat,” said the mayor of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Jonathan Lapierre. Mario Cyr dove in to participate in the maneuvers. “[…] They have pulled out all the cages of the boat, continues Mr. Lapierre. There was somebody who loaned a boat so that he could, also, put their cages in the sea. These are really beautiful gestures!” The cause of the sinking is unknown for the time being. “I imagine that this is probably a stupid accident”, believes the elected.

Îles-de-la-Madeleine: un départ inusité pour la pêche au homard

At the beginning of the Saturday night, at a time when the lobster boats were preparing to go to sea, a boat sank at the dock.

Photo provided by Jonathan Lapierre

The spokesperson of the event in 2017, Vincent Graton, published what he called “a small metaphor in the time of a pandemic” on his page Facebook personal. “Robert St-Onge calls me to tell me that the boat of my friend Norman Deraspe comes to flow. It is O. K. Emotion at the end of the wire. Then, Robert told me that it is to recover its cages to lobster to, perhaps, distribute it to the other fishermen. In other words, to save the fishing for my boyfriend. Other fishermen would be willing to wear his cage. Paf! The strength of the solidarity of our friends in the Islands, a people that stands in front of all storms. I thought of what we go through. Everyone for himself or together? If we choose together, how far together? I’m ready or not to take a little of your cages to wear them if you can’t. Nice metaphor, huh? […] That this spirit animates us.”

The next day, the actor wrote: “[…] The community of Grande-entrée has managed to get out of the cages of my friend of water, we found a boat to Norman, and he is away at sea. The great strength of human. Why I braille writing these words? Because that is how we make a country, as we mark the territory of our values of solidarity and mutual help. It is through it that our children understand the meaning to be imposed for the suite.”

A mayor in the sea

As every year, the mayor of the Islands participated in the opening of the season aboard a lobster boat. For Jonathan Lapierre, the mood wasn’t sad. “This is different. The activities were held digitally via the Internet, with Zoom, and, via the radio. It is very much the fashion of this time. Everyone has reviewed and adapted its way of doing business. Therefore, the water was no exception to the rule.”

The downside of this season is more of the unknown to be faced by lobster fishermen. They went to sea without knowing the price they will be looking for their loot and not knowing how to react to the markets. Despite the uncertainties, the fishermen were happy. “It was good to move on to something else, says the mayor. The fishing, this is the life, the vitality, the return of spring. The COVID was away. It was good. You could hear it everywhere!” Take the wide, find himself in the middle of the ocean, is this not the most beautiful image of a déconfinement total? “Oh, yes”, replied Jonathan Lapierre.

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