The fishing season for shrimp in danger

La saison de pêche à la crevette en péril

La saison de pêche à la crevette en péril

The boats fishing to the shrimp, which were to take to the sea on the 1st of April, are paralyzed at the dock.


27 may 2020 17: 20


The fishing season for shrimp in danger

La saison de pêche à la crevette en péril

La saison de pêche à la crevette en péril

Johanne Fournier

Special Collaboration

MATANE — The fishermen of northern shrimp, which had to take to the sea on the 1st of April, are still detained at the dock. Will there be a fishing season for shrimp, this year? If one believes the main protagonists of this industry, there is nothing of course. This is why a coalition of interprovincial calls for emergency measures in Ottawa to save the fishing season, which, according to her, is in danger, just as the thousands of jobs that depend on it.

Made up of three fishermen’s associations and six aboriginal communities in Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, the coalition calls on the federal government to put in place six measures of support. Among these include the elimination of the cost of a fishing licence for 2020, the modification of the eligibility criteria of the employment insurance program to protect workers from the catching sector will find themselves without employment and the increase in the maximum amount of the support program to the enterprises of 40 000$ to 120 000$.

“There is a person very optimistic,” said the director of the Office of the fishermen of a shrimp of the Great Gaspé (OPCGG), Patrice Element. It will start if the price decreed it allows everyone to fish, and to transform with a certain sense of security […].”

The director general of the quebec Association of the fishing industry (AQIP) feeds a little more confidence, hoping even that the activities could begin in early June. “This is not easy, but one seeks solutions so that the fishermen can go fishing and that we could buy and not be deficit based, points out Jean-Paul Gagné. This will not be a good year, but we want there to be a fishing and a transformation to have shrimp on the market. We want to keep our customers! It is necessary to be positive and optimistic!” It is a reminder that this industry is crucial to the economy of maritime regions, particularly in the Gaspé.

The total allowable catch overall is 17 999 tons, which represents an average increase of 4% compared to last season. However, the leader of the AQIP was optimistic that, even if the activities only began in June, fishers may have sufficient time to meet their quota.

The causes of the delay

The shrimp fishery in the estuary and gulf of St. Lawrence has been paralyzed at the beginning of April because it could not recover its certification of sustainable fisheries by the Marine Steward Council (MSC) before mid-April. Renewable every five years, this certification is required by the european markets. The shrimp have also remained at dock because the plants of the Gaspé peninsula are not ready to accommodate landings of shrimp as they are taken, as well as other in Atlantic canada and especially in Europe, with large inventories of the past year. Therefore, the hope of demand recovery on a global scale is wiped out until these markets account for a certain amount of their inventories. In the opinion of Jean-Paul Gagné, there are even stocks of 2018 that have not been sold.

Markets blocked

The current conditions of the market are not so much guided by the price of the famous pink pearl of the St. Lawrence river, which by the unsold inventories. “The markets for northern shrimp are Great Britain and the scandinavian countries, says Patrice Element. These people are off as we. There are more person who wants to buy the shrimp! The processors say that the prices are crap and that they will be required to support inventory for a good stretch. In Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, the transformers are more or less interested to buy shrimp.” Mr. Gagné to the AQIP corroborates these remarks: “The shrimp, it is blocked; there is no market! The problem is that there is no price because inventories are so high!”

Price drop

If ever the season of shrimp fishery opens, it will be hit by a decline in the prices in the landing. “The price at the dock will be decreased compared to the previous year, ensures Jean-Paul Gagné. Both parties recognize that. There are no markets! Everyone is in the same bath!” The director of the Office of the fishermen is afflicted. “The prices that are circulating do not even allow the fishermen to cover their costs,” said Mr Element. “There is no one, neither fishermen nor us, who wants to go fishing or transform without knowing that there will be a certain degree of profitability”, concludes from Mr. Won.


The pandemic caused by the COVID-19 will result in negative consequences? “Whether on the plan of the fisheries or as a citizen, we are going to have scars for several years, understands the boss of the OPCGG. But personally, I think that on the plan of the shrimp, it is expected to recover in whole or in part within six months or a year.”

According to Jean-Paul Gagné, the crisis is more caused by the abundance of the small crustaceans on the market by the coronavirus. It also considers that competition from farmed shrimp, and shrimp wild from Argentina, very popular in the supermarkets, is another factor that explains the collapse of the market for northern shrimp. To the director-general of the AQIP, the shrimp is, however, superior to all the others by its taste. Mr. Gagné also considers that the health crisis has no impact on the processing activities. “There is no problem with it. It is all ready. Everyone has a protocol and has complied.”

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