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Smelts are becoming rare in the Acadian Peninsula

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jan20,2024

Smelt are rare in the Acadian Peninsula

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Many smelt enthusiasts are looking for this little fish.

  • René Landry (View profile)René Landry

Voice synthesis, based on artificial intelligence, makes it possible to generate spoken text from written text.

Smelts are rare along the coasts of New Brunswick, particularly in the Acadian Peninsula. Some consumers go out of their way to try to buy these little fish that they find delicious.

The mild weather and the late arrival of the ice cream obviously have something to do with it. For some, the tradition of eating smelt during the holiday season already seems to be a thing of the past.

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Caraquet Bay is not yet frozen, as was the case around the same time last year (archives).

Paula Sonier, from Tracadie, tried in vain to obtain some during the holiday season, especially since her son, who lives in Mexico, was visiting and wanted to eat some.

But there were no smelt anywhere, she said. I called everywhere, everywhere, everywhere, no one had smelt.

My son, he stays in Mexico. There are no smelts there.

A quote from Paula Sonier, from Tracadie

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Since the holidays, things have not improved much for smelt lovers.

A few days ago, Paula Sonier finished, not without difficulty, by finding some from a fisherman in Tabusintac.

I bought two five pound bags of smelt. I'm going to eat it Saturday night. I have to eat smelt at least once a week. I eat them without even removing the bone when they are not too big.

A quote from Paula Sonier, from Tracadie

But this fisherman from Tabusintac, Ernest Robichaud, already has none left. What he has on his hands, however, is a long waiting list of customers.

The waiting list is longer than my arm. And my arm is not short.

A quote from Ernest Robichaud, smelt fisherman from Tabusintac

I receive calls from everywhere: Lamèque, Shippagan, Caraquet, Allardville, Bathurst, he assures. There are even people from Quebec who stopped here and wanted to bring some back.

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The fisherman smelts Ernest Robichaud, from Tabusintac, has never seen such an unproductive season.

Ernest Robichaud, who will soon be 70 years old, has been fishing for smelt for around forty years in the Tabusintac river and bay. But when he sets his nets these days, the fishing is far from miraculous. According to him, catches have never been so low.

Last year, there weren't many smelts. But this year it's even worse. Friday I fished with five nets. It's two days of fishing for forty pounds of smelt.

He points to two voracious species to explain the rarity of the coveted little fish : striped bass and seal.

In Bouctouche, the restaurant La Sagouine has just put the smelt plate back on its menu. The owner, Carole Savoie, had not been able to do this before. The company buys its smelt from a local fisherman.

We started offering the smelt plate on Friday, she explains. It's a meal that is very popular in the area at this time of year.

She says the phone rang often. Customers were starting to get impatient.

People were calling to see if we had any smelt. They were disappointed.

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Jacqueline Bertin, from Poissonnerie Arseneau, in Nigadoo, proudly poses in front of a bag of smelt.

At Poissonnerie Arseneau, in Nigadoo, Jacqueline Bertin sells smelts from Prince Edward Island for several months and, more recently, from Richibucto.

We have a lot of people from the Acadian Peninsula who come to get it here. There are also some who come from the Campbellton and Dalhousie region.

A quote from Jacqueline Bertin, employee of the Poissonnerie Arseneau in Nigadoo

As for this slightly sweet taste sought by fans of the small fish that many find delicious, Jacqueline Bertin tries to reassure consumers on the Acadian Peninsula.

They are excellent. Yes sir! As good as those from Neguac or Pokesudie.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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