Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Whatever it is things to know about redfish

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Redfish is a white-fleshed bottom fish.

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  • Margaud Castadère (View profile)Margaud Castadère
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    After around thirty years of moratorium, commercial redfish fishing will be authorized this year in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Spotlight on this groundfish which had (almost) disappeared from our nets and our plates.

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    There are two species of redfish in the Gulf: Atlantic redfish and Acadian redfish. (Archive photo)

    For the Gulf of St. Lawrence area, the biomass of Atlantic redfish is estimated at 2.3 million tonnes for mature sized fish. This value is one of the highest observed in Unit 1 since 1984, indicates Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

    But the fish are smaller than before, and their growth is slower.

    In 2011, there was a boom in redfish births, which continued in 2012 and 2013. But the births did not continue after that.

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    Growth redfish has slowed down over the last three years and there has been no significant recruitment [new baby fish, Editor's note] since the strong cohorts of 2011-2013. In addition, natural mortality could be higher than expected in recent years, specifies the federal agency.

    Fisheries and Oceans scientists also estimate that the biomass will slowly decrease in the coming years.

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    Pubnico wharf, not far from the Scotia Harvest factory.

    Redfish fishing has always existed in Canada, south of Newfoundland and off the coast of Nova Scotia. To this are added, to a lesser extent, so-called scientific quotas allocated by the Federal Ministry of Fisheries.

    Elsewhere in the world, a handful of countries share more than 80% of the market: Iceland, Russia, Norway and Portugal.

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    Canada will therefore have to find a place among these players, which will not be easy according to Jean Lanteigne, general director of the regional federation Acadian Association of Professional Fishermen (FRAPP).

    The Icelanders are number one. They have large, super modern factory ships with unparalleled handling. And they are equipped to maintain their market share, he explains.

    Redfish is fished with bottom trawls.

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    Shrimp boats are the fishing boats that are the easiest to equip and adapt for redfish fishing.

    The first phase of the reopening of this fishing will be done with at least 25,000 tonnes for Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

    Offshore fishermen, or boats over 100 feet in length, received the majority of allocations, with 58.69 percent of the total allowed. Most of these vessels are in Nova Scotia.

    Fleet sectors Allocations (%)
    Offshore mobile craft fleets (ships>100 feet) 58.69%
    Coastal fleets of mobile craft (vessels < 65 feet) 14.84%
    Mid-shore mobile fleets (vessels between 65 and 100 feet) 5.72%
    Fixed coastal fishing gear (bycatch) 0.75%< /td>
    Shrimp fishermen of the estuary and Gulf of Saint Lawrence 10%
    Indigenous communities 10%

    Source: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

    A distribution that makes groups of fishermen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence cringe .

    The distribution should have been done better, says Jean-Bernard Bourgeois, president of the Association of Redfish Fishermen of the Islands. Fifteen percent goes to inshore fishermen, who have boats 65 feet and under. These are the majority of boats found on our docks. On the other hand, the bulk of the quota that will be fished will be by deep seas, therefore large corporations, he continues.

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    Scotia Harvest currently employs 86 workers at its Digby plant.

    Redfish is an inexpensive white-fleshed fish, which is mostly eaten in fillets. It can also be processed into fish meal or used as bait for other fisheries.

    It is not a fish that has a high market value. The advantage on the other hand that we have compared to species like pangasius or tilapia which are today farmed products, at least we have a product that comes from the sea , which will certainly be eco-certified. This will be an advantage that we will have to exploit the redfish markets, explains Jean Lanteigne.

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    The Scotia Harvest plant processed 3,000 tonnes of redfish last year.

    After a 30-year moratorium, markets need to be won back for Canadian redfish.

    We have challenges in terms of the size of our redfish because the size of the redfish in unit one is very small and a little smaller than what Europeans are used to, admits Sylvie Lapointe, president of the Council of the Atlantic bottom fish.

    What we are trying to do for Canadian redfish is to advance the fact that we has sustainable fishing that is responsible, and therefore consumers should feel comfortable purchasing this product. And we are also trying to develop a market in Asia, China and Japan, she continues.

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