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Crab fishers ready, but factories that lack workers

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The snow crab fishery opens on Sunday in area 17.

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The snow crab fishery opens on Sunday in zone 17. Less than two days before the start of the season, processing plants in Eastern Quebec still do not have the full workforce. necessary work, but the crabbers say they are ready.

Zone 17 extends from Pointe-des-Monts to Tadoussac and Rivière-du-Loup to Rivière-à-Claude.

At the Matane quay, preparations are going well despite the cold and the wind that sweeps the region Friday morning.

Fishermen attach the bait to the cages and finish loading it onto their boat.

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Fishermen at the Matane wharf Friday morning.

Bertrand Desbois, captain-owner of La Gaspésienne 51 is ready. All cages are on board. We're ready to go, he says.

The fishermen moored at the port of Matane do not seem worried about being able to sell the shellfish they have caught, despite the crisis of temporary Mexican workers which is shaking the fishing industry peaches since February 29.

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Captain-owner Bertrand Desbois mentions that the crabbers of Matane mainly sell their stocks in fish markets in the province and that they do not do business with processing plants.

Only the largest crabbers must go through the processing plants.

We sell it in our fish stores in Matane and Quebec, he explains. But in Gaspésie, it's a little harder there, as we hear about, for the factories, they don't have [Mexican workers] because of visas, adds Mr. Desbois.

The landed price won't be high, but it's okay. It's not as bad as shrimp!

A quote from Bertrand Desbois, captain-owner of La Gaspésienne 51

Open in full screen mode< p class="StyledImageCaptionLegend-sc-57496c44-2 sbxsP">Bertrand Desbois is preparing for the opening of the snow crab fishing season.

Factories on the North Shore, which process snow crab snows in zone 17, will not be able to operate at full capacity.

Pêcheries Manicouagan and Groupe UMEK in Sept-Îles will be able to open their doors, but both lack temporary Mexican workers.

This situation is also reflected in Bas-Saint-Laurent. In Rimouski, the management of the Pêcheries de l’Estuaire processing plant admits it has been a roller coaster ride since February 29.

President Henry Clapperton says the temporary Mexican workers who were expected have still not arrived. Because they have not obtained their visa yet, he criticizes.

We know that there are a few who have obtained their work permit, but they are waiting after the visa is stamped, he specifies. He deplores a longer process than the federal government had promised.

The company was expecting 18 of these temporary workers, as many positions as it had to fill otherwise. It is with a dozen local workers that the company will be ready to operate in two days.

It's back to square one. These workers must receive training before the start of activities. For Henry Clapperton, it's an obstacle course, which is still not over.

Some employees of Fruits de mer de l'Est du Québec, in Matane, joined the Pêcheries de l'Estuaire team, but the Rimousk-based company was unable to offer work to the 35 people who lost their jobs on Monday.

Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller spoke Thursday about the return of visas for Mexican workers. He said he was hopeful that between 80% and 100% of these temporary workers would arrive to start the fishing season.

A supposition that Henry Clapperton refutes. Mexican workers, I don't have one yet. What Mr. Miller says and then what actually happens… that's not really what's happening, he says.

The Immigration Department says it is working to speed up the process.

I hope that we will be able to get by despite all the constraints that the federal government is currently giving us.

A quote from Henry Clapperton, President, Fisheries of the Federal Government. Estuary

The minister responsible for Fisheries and Oceans Canada and federal MP for Gaspésie–Les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Diane Lebouthillier, says she learned by same time as everyone else the return of mandatory visas for Mexican nationals.

Mr. Clapperton nevertheless says he recognizes that the Minister of Fisheries has made efforts to move this issue forward.

For his part, the member for Îles-de -la-Madeleine, Joël Arseneau, criticizes Ottawa's response to the crisis caused in the fishing industry by the reimposition of a visa on Mexican workers.

This decision by the federal government, announced one month before the start of the fishing season, derailed the forecasts of processing plants, which depend on this workforce.

Thursday, the federal Minister of Immigration, Marc Miller, and the federal Minister of Fisheries, Diane Lebouthillier, mentioned that they were aware of the impact that #x27;would have the imposition of a visa, but that they were sure that the crisis would resolve.

Joël Arseneau cannot explain why the two ministers refuse to grant a temporary exemption to Mexican workers hired by processors.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Factories are still waiting for plenty of temporary Mexican workers for the opening of the Area 12 crab fishery, the date of which will be set Monday by the ice committee.

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