File | La Presse in Matane | Fishing against everything (3 articles)


With the shrimp population collapsing, the pacambala population following suit, and crabs being small in certain areas this year, Gaspé fishermen are avoiding going through factories and working directly with fishmongers. Is this a sustainable solution?


(Matane) Pierre-Nicolas Tanguay-Lévesque and Franky Dugas have always had their sea legs: they grew up on a boat. He fishes crabs and flounder from the port of Matane. A few years ago, they bought their father’s fishing licenses. Except that flounder stocks are followed by shrimp stocks: so things are looking very bad this year.

“They are two species that trade. quite together and who stand in the same depths, the same waters, details Pierre-Nicolas Tanguay-Lévesque. They don’t necessarily respond well to warming water. »

The allocation of quotas for plaice will be revealed in ten days, on May 15, but already the captains know that this hunt will not be profitable this year, as they expect very limited fishing permits.

Flounder are caught smaller and smaller. It grows less. It has something to do with his food or maybe climate change.

Pierre-Nicolas Tanguay-Lévesque, fisherman

Crab season is good in a way: there are lots of small crustaceans – and females with eggs. Great news for anglers looking to the future; a little less for fishmonger customers who find their crabs very small…

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, PRINT

Other Quebec fishermen work directly with fishmongers elsewhere, especially on the north coast, but for Pierre-Nicolas and Franky, who want to ensure the sustainability of their businesses, this is a new business model.

With supplies and prices fluctuating, the two young fishermen decided on a business model they had never tried before: their catch no longer goes to a factory, they now deal directly with the fishmonger Bernard Lauzier of Kamouraska. Their catches therefore remain entirely on the Quebec market, which pleases them; the model is more complex but more rewarding, they say.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, PRINT

When the fishermen arrive, an employee of the Poissonnerie Lauzier is waiting for them at the port of Matane, collecting crabs.

The fishermen and the fishmonger have made adjustments to get the most out of it for everyone: since he sells more crabs on weekends, Pierre-Nicolas and Franky agree to adjust their schedule or even change their fishing area according to commercial demand. In return, Bernard Lauzier will buy their entire quota at a premium. If he has too many crabs, the trader has to sell them to distributors.

Crabs are small

  • PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, PRINT

    “I’m the first person waiting for a crab in the spring,” says Bernard Lauzier, owner of the eponymous fishmonger in Kamouraska – and now a second branch in Rivière-du-Loup.

  • The crab is smaller, sales are lower, because customers buy it by quantity, not by weight: they are used to taking three parts per person.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, PRINT

    The crab is smaller, sales are lower, because customers buy it by quantity, not by weight: they are used to taking three parts per person.

  • By purchasing directly from the fisherman, it is the employees of the fishmonger who arrange the shellfish.  In the middle of the fishing season, Lauzier is buzzing.  The owner is constantly contacted by his team who must negotiate the price of certain fish and then pick up the catch when the fisherman's boat returns to port.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, PRINT

    By purchasing directly from the fisherman, it is the employees of the fishmonger who arrange the shellfish. In the middle of the fishing season, Lauzier is buzzing. The owner is constantly contacted by his team who must negotiate the price of certain fish and then pick up the catch when the fisherman’s boat returns to port.

  • “People don't really want a small crab,” says Bernard Lauzier, “they want a big crab, even if it's not always full.  » In a bag that contained 10 crabs last year, fishmongers can put 15 or 16 of them this year.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, PRINT

    “People don’t really want a small crab,” says Bernard Lauzier, “they want a big crab, even if it’s not always full. » In a bag that contained 10 crabs last year, fishmongers can put 15 or 16 of them this year.

  • In late April and early May, crab sales are much lower than at the beginning of the season.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, PRINT

    In late April and early May, crab sales are much lower than at the beginning of the season.

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“I decided to dive four years ago,” says Bernard Lauzier, whom he met at his fish market in Kamouraska. This partnership makes his life (a little) easier: instead of calling several boats to negotiate his purchases, he talks to a single fisherman about his crab and gets the shellfish at the desired time.

Sales are less good this year for several reasons, explains Bernard Lauzier: the economic situation and the quality of the crab, which, being smaller, attracts fewer customers. “Last year was not a good season, but two years ago we had the best season in history. »

Consumers remember: we went from a season when prices were very high to another when crab was offered cheaply, in the spring of 2023. Excessive price fluctuations that will eventually damage the entire chain, says Bernard Lauzier. “It was extremely difficult,” he said. It killed the market. »

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, PRINT

Fisherman Roger Ouellette comes to sell his catch at Poissonnerie Lauzier. In the photo, he is holding a flounder.

Halibut or halibut?

Caution: Flounder, which is actually a big flounder, should not be confused with Atlantic halibut, a large fish from the Gulf of St. Lawrence, whose populations are healthy. Which makes it a sustainable choice in the fish trade.





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