Nutrition of St. Lawrence’s products: a path dotted with pitfalls

Because St. Lawrence is not just a lobster or a snow crab. Sea urchins, fry, stone crabs are other products that the river is rich in, but which are difficult for consumers to reach.

Kakuna, a paradise for green sea urchins

In this region, the first nation Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk gathers sea urchins in large numbers. About a million pounds or even a little more is caught every year. Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation collects about a quarterexplains commercial fisheries manager Guy Pascal Weiner.

The problem is that these sea urchins are fully sold … in the United States. These sea urchins are found in Las Vegas, Manhattan, in the most beautiful casinos, the largest cruise liners, says Mr. Weiner. He promises that in one or two years, Quebecers will be able to more easily taste sea urchins from the island of St. Lawrence. However, this is not an easy task.

These green sea urchins, collected on St. Lawrence Island, will be sold entirely in the United States.

Photo: Radio Canada / Grocery store

Maritime Quebec is a vast territory, explains Mr. Weiner. This is a large-scale fishery, which then needs to be divided into small orders throughout the territory. It is still very difficult, while mass export with one customer, one invoice, one truck, one batch is very easy. But it increases the dependence on one buyer.

The country does have a plan to process the sea urchin locally and sell it in Quebec, but it is a long-term job. These are slow and cumbersome administrative processesMr. Weiner remarks.

Roman and his bourgeoisie

Guillaume Werstink is an oceanographer and now co-owns the Chasse-Marée cannery with fisherman Emmanuel Sand-Dugay.

He overcame many pitfalls to launch his regional cannery.

The two partners just wanted to catch a burgundy in front of Rimoski and could sell it everywhere in Quebec.

The Chasse-Marée cannery catches fish in front of Rimoski and cans it for sale throughout Quebec.

Photo: Radio Canada / Grocery store

This small project has become an administrative nightmare. MAPAQ nine times rejected their requests for permission to process fishing fish.

I do not know how many projects were left on this path precisely because they did not reach all these stages. If we had considered the first letter of refusal, we would have stopped there a year and a half agoexplains Guillaume Werstink.

We are a small processing unit. We want to do something a little different. Then it seems that all current legislation is based on the model of large-scale production. Whether you want to create a factory that makes millions of pounds for crabs or lobsters, or you want to create a small cannery, you are in the same administrative shirtnotes the oceanographer.

However, these are very small volumes. Researcher at the Institute for Research in Modern Economics (IREC) Gabriel Burgo-Foche followed this file. % des volumes débarqués au Québec. C’est une goutte d’eau dans l’océan. Pourquoi y a-t-il eu autant de résistance dans ce dossier?”,”text”:”Ce que Chasse-Marée demandait, c’était de transformer 0,1% des volumes débarqués au Québec. C’est une goutte d’eau dans l’océan. Pourquoi y a-t-il eu autant de résistance dans ce dossier?”}}”>What Chasse-Marée asked for is to process 0.1% of the volumes that landed in Quebec. This is a drop in the ocean. Why was there so much resistance in this file?

The researcher hypothesizes: We do not want to open the door for another model, another way of working. We do not want to set a precedent and then open the gateways and actually break the status quo.

The same story from the director of Exploramer Sandra Gauthier. Today, when a new player comes, when new ideas appear, you have to mix things up a bit so that everyone can take their place.

Export fishing

Quebecers find it difficult to eat local fish and seafood.

According to the Institute for Modern Economic Studies, in 2018, 90% of seafood consumed in Quebec was imported.

Quebec exports almost 80% of local resources, mostly three flagship products: snow crab, lobster and shrimp. An industry dominated by several major players.

This export model is defended by the Association québécoise de l’industrie de la pêche (AQIP), whose director Jean-Paul Gagnier emphasizes profitability. You can’t be against exports, he explains. This is new money coming to Quebec. I don’t think anyone is against it. However, he clarifies that sales in Quebec have been growing steadily over the past few years. AQIP claims that 28% of what is caught is sold locally.

Lobsters and shrimps: they are loved by Quebec residents. Demand is constantly growing, but it has its limits. Diversifying the offer, discovering little-known products – this is what many small anglers and processors, who met last February at the first show Fourchette Bleue, organized by Exploramer in the Riviera du Lou.

We have a model that focuses on production, packaging, exports, explains Gabriel Burgo-Foche of IREC. This proposal should be structured through the development of transport and logistics infrastructure.

Stone crab from Saint-Anne-de-Mont

Gislen Collin is a lobster fisherman in Newport, Schaler Bay, but he has another project in mind: to catch and process a stone crab, an abandoned but tasty cousin of the snow crab.

Stone crab

Photo: Radio Canada / Jean-François Deschamps

There is a great demand for meat, says Mr. Collin. But to sell it to industrialists and restaurateurs, you need a factory and a permit for processing.

The process continues, but for the fisherman it is extremely difficult.

It is necessary to submit a fairly large package of documents, says Mr. Collin, to pass it to the advisory committee, which consists of industrialists and representatives of various organizations, including MAPAQ. This committee is examining the request to see if it will harm another plant.

I have a bachelor’s degree in college and I can’t apply on my own. It’s too complicated. »

The quote h Gislen Collin, lobster fisherman

Mr Collin said he was surprised that competitors could comment on his license application. In my opinion, these are protectionist laws from ancient times. This was to protect industry and jobs in the region. We try to take responsibility for our product and offer it first in Quebec!

Jean-Paul Gagne, of AQIP, wants to set a record: Not big players decide. Big players are consulted, but it is MAPAQ that decides whether or not to issue a permit. However, the fisheries representative acknowledges that he has some influence on MAPAQ. Of course, we work with MAPAQ. We must work together.

In Exploramer, Sandra Gauthier advocates greater flexibility. Departments will have to help make room for new players as they can change the sustainability of fisheries. It will pass through these new players, absolutely!

There are a few industrialists who are clearly interested in supporting this way of working and may be hindering another, alternative model, more indigenous in areas where several species are caught with the least coastal fishing.notes Gabriel Burgo-Foche of IREC.

In Quebec, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Andre Lamontan acknowledges that efforts are needed. The discussions I have had with the fishing industry and the requests I have been able to make to them take some of them out of their comfort zone. But I’ve never heard that they don’t want other people to want to be exploited [les produits du Saint-Laurent].

With regard to the availability of seafood from St. Lawrence Island, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Andre Lamontan acknowledged that efforts were needed.

Photo: Radio Canada

The Ministry wants to support new projects as openly as possible. »

The quote h Andre Lamontan, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec

Gislen Collin does not give up and promises that one day Quebecers will be able to taste his stone crab.

Only a minority can go through this process. Among the manufacturers, everyone is satisfied, there are not many players in the market. You have to be really tough, have a pig’s head and not let go.

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