Helping Pelagic Fishermen: Meeting Diane Lebouthillier Without Any Guarantees

The president of the Regroupement, Ghislaine Collin, believes that the meeting that took place on July 27 in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts allowed the MNA and the federal minister Diane Leboutillier to familiarize themselves with the reality of pelagic fishermen.

According to Mr. Collin, at least five fishermen in his group are currently without income following the suspension of spring herring and mackerel fishing announced March 30 by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Lebouthillier, on a eu une belle conversation constructive, on s’est bien entendus. Il y aura peut-être des développements futurs, mais comme c’est là, il n’y a encore rien de concret sur la table”,”text”:”On a pu s’asseoir avec la ministreLebouthillier, on a eu une belle conversation constructive, on s’est bien entendus. Il y aura peut-être des développements futurs, mais comme c’est là, il n’y a encore rien de concret sur la table”}}”>We were able to sit down with Minister Lebouthier, we had a great constructive conversation, we got along well. There may be future developments, but nothing concrete is on the table yet.– complains Mr. Collin.

Since March, the fishermen have repeatedly appealed to the federal government for financial support.

Ms. Leboutillier told us that she was going to hold meetings in August and would invite us to the table. At least the dialog was opened, but no confirmation of help. »

Quote from Ghislaine Collin, president of the Southern Gaspé Pelagic Fishermen’s Association

Ghislaine Collin wants confirmation of aid to come quickly to reassure fishermen without income (archive).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

However, Mr Collin claims he was able to use the meeting to explain to the MP that the buy-back of certain lobster licenses to streamline fishing efforts has created a category in recent decades orphan fishermen whose income is mainly based on mackerel and herring.

I explained to him why these fishermen are in trouble and why the federal government should help these fishermen and take them into account– says Ghislaine Collin.

In response to a specific question about possible financial assistance, Fisheries and Oceans Canada emailed a general statement about the reasons for the fishing suspension, but did not respond in any way to questions sent by Radio-Canada.

Psychological distress

Mr Collin is very concerned about the psychological state of some of the fishermen he represents.

I’m sure I have fishermen in a psychological breakdown, they’re at the end of their rope– explains the representative of pelagic fishermen in a voice broken by emotions. They do not see the future, they are on ventilators, they are tired of fighting.

Alexis Deschenes shakes hands with a man who smiles at him.

Parti Québécois leader and PQ candidate for Bonaventure, Alexis Deschenes, set out to meet with pelagic fishermen at the Newport Pier on June 12 (archive).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

They’re losing their business, they’re losing their lives, these guyscontinues Mr. Collin. They have no more money to pay for their boat, they have lost their crew, that is the greatest sorrow. These guys worked as fishermen and did nothing else. Fishing is their whole life.

The president of the Regroupement says that about fifteen fishermen, whom he represents, are facing serious difficulties, although the youngest have been hired in other brigades.

They still have businesses they are losing and they have to make paymentsexplains Mr. Collin. ans, ce n’est pas évident de te faire embaucher pour la pêche au crabe.”,”text”:”Quant aux pêcheurs plus âgés, ils n’ont plus aucun revenu. Quand t’as 65ans, ce n’est pas évident de te faire embaucher pour la pêche au crabe.”}}”>As for older fishermen, they no longer have any income. When you are 65 years old, it is not easy to take up crab fishing.

Support from Quebec: radio silence

In addition, Ghislaine Collin claims that Quebec, like Ottawa, has yet to take concrete steps to help members of his group.

On June 20, Fisheries Minister Andre Lamontagne visited Paspebiac to meet pelagic fishermen. At the time, he pledged to support them, although he believed it was Ottawa’s responsibility to offer compensation.

Quebec minister photographed standing with pelagic fishermen sitting at a table.

Quebec Fisheries Minister Andre Lamontagne spoke to a dozen pelagic fishermen during a meeting that lasted about 40 minutes in June (archive).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Isabelle Larose

Radio silence now, I’m letting them work but can’t wait for them to come back with something. But there the elections are approaching and everything seems to be on pauseMr. Collin mentions.

At the time of publication, Radio Canada was awaiting a response from the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.

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