Scientific fishing for rockfish allowed this year

Fishers in the Magdalen Islands are preparing for a possible return of the commercial redfish fishery, following the scientists’ recommendation to lift the moratorium on this species as early as this year.

At a meeting in Halifax this week, scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada recommended the lifting of the moratorium on redfish in a defined area in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and southern Newfoundland.

Fishermen’s associations then agreed to allow a scientific but non-commercial fishery for redfish, 4500 tonnes in 2018, and 8500 tonnes in 2019.

Madelipêche plant manager Paul Boudreau explains that the goal is first to collect accurate data on this species, possibly to restore its commercial fishery in 2020.

As for the quotas, Mr. Boudreau does not hide that he hopes to recover the 25% shares historically held by Madelipêche on the quota of redfish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

“We hope that redfish that historically was fished and processed in the Islands, will be able to continue to be,” he admits.

“Very, very, very high expectations”

Mr. Boudreau is not the only one to want his share of the redfish market. The data from Fisheries and Oceans Canada nourish the hopes of many fishermen.

The potential of redfish is immense. We are talking about stocks that should reach between 2.5 and 3 million tonnes.

Paul Boudreau, manager of the Madelipêche factory

According to the manager, the resource could reach triple the quantities observed in the 1980s, “the good years,” he recalls.

Thus, the madelinot crab fisherman Bruno-Pierre Bourque, who was already building a new boat, decided to adapt it specifically for redfish fishing.

“Certainly the expectations are very, very, very high in the Islands,” observes the fisherman, who is certain that the redfish will soon be the most fished species in the Gulf.

These expectations also stem from the fact that Island fishers have been hard hit by the 1995 redfish moratorium.

The Îles-de-la-Madeleine suffered enormous damage during the moratorium on redfish, which have never been compensated.

Paul Boudreau, manager of the Madelipêche factory

“Before the collapse of the redfish fishery, it was a major economy in the Islands, if not the main one. Everything fell into the water and we did not get any compensation, “Bruno-Pierre Bourque also complains.

How to “better” catch redfish?

With his new boat, Mr. Bourque collaborates with the Merinov Fisheries Innovation Center to preserve the quality of the fish, from its exit from the water until it arrives at the plant.

We want to focus more on quality than quantity.

Bruno-Pierre Bourque, madelinot fisherman

In particular, he conducts tests to determine the optimum temperature at which to store the fish.

“Instead of putting all the fish in bulk, we will put it in smaller containers, so the top fish will not crush the bottom fish. Before, it was loose and on the ice, so the quality was good, but not optimal, “explains the fisherman.

The quantity has long been awarded in the redfish fishery. It must be said that this fish was, along with cod, the most important bottom species in the Gulf, until stocks collapsed in the early 1990s due to overfishing.

Theo O'Farrell

Theo O’Farrell was born and raised in Summerside. As a journalist Theo has contributed to CBC News Blog, The Calgary Herald and Buzz Feed. In regards to academics, Theo earned his sociology degree from Queens. Theor covers local news and culture stories here at Island Daily Tribune.

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Theo O'Farrell

About the Author: Theo O'Farrell

Theo O'Farrell was born and raised in Summerside. As a journalist Theo has contributed to CBC News Blog, The Calgary Herald and Buzz Feed. In regards to academics, Theo earned his sociology degree from Queens. Theor covers local news and culture stories here at Island Daily Tribune.

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