Monday, March 29, 2010

The Jean-Matthieu Sails To Seal Hunt

Only one boat left the islands to sail to the seal herd and participate in the annual seal hunt, the Jean-Matthieu.  She left the wharf on Sunday morning at four o’clock in the morning and headed for the Lower North Shore, with a dozen seal hunters.
They went to find the small herd of seal that the Canadian Fisheries and Oceans plane had spotted off St. Augustine, near Blanc-Sablon, Quebec . The Jean-Matthieu is scheduled to arrive Monday morning at the hunting site, after thirty hours of navigation. 

The owner of the butchery shop, la Boucherie Côte à Côte, seal hunter Réjean Vigneau is on board the ship. His purpose for hunting the seal is to supply seal meat to approximately twenty restaurants in the province of Quebec.  They are hoping to attain at least a thousand seal per day.

The seal hunt officially opened on Friday, March 26th, 2010, in spite of the unusual absence of ice in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Club Vacances Les Iles Inc. Receives $824,666 Renovations Grant

The Minister for Economic Development Canada, the Honorable Denis Lebel, and the member of Parliament for the Iles de la Madeleine, Monsieur Germain Chevarie, on behalf of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Regions and Land Occupancy, Laurent Lessard, are pleased to announce that the Salicornia Inn (Club Vacances Les inc.) will receive a joint financial support of $824,666 paid under the Quebec Building Canada Fund Communities Component for the renovation of several of its buildings.  
The project is aimed at the expansion and renovation of several buildings of the Salicorne Inn located in the center of Grand Entry. The work will include the construction of a multipurpose room in the main building, building repairs and home services and the development of a center for physical activity in the building "Le Phare". The project will benefit the entire community of Magdalen Islands, besides allowing the islands to host a new international customers and business. 

"The proposed renovation of the Inn, The Samphire will benefit residents and businesses alike  the community of Grand Entry and Magdalen Islands. In doing so, we ensure that people enjoy a quality of life that creates the country's reputation. Indeed, the Government of Canada's goal is to provide each community with modern facilities essential to health and safety of all citizens. The renewal of public infrastructure is part of a comprehensive plan of action that can prosper, in a healthy environment, "said Minister Lebel. 

"By participating in this project, the Government of Quebec will accept the priority to providing the municipalities of Quebec infrastructure to adapt to our realities and focus on sustainable development. By injecting new capital into the Quebec Infrastructures Plan, the government wants to accelerate the achievement of many infrastructure projects in the territory of Quebec, such as those within the area of Grand Entry, Magdalen Islands to improve the well being of citizens of Quebec, create jobs and sustain good economic performance. We give quality infrastructure, tools needed to meet the challenges of the future, "said MP Germain Chevarie.  

For the completion of this project, it will require a total investment of $1, 237, 000. The governments of Quebec and Canada will each donate $412, 333, representing a total government assistance of $824,666, while the Salicornia Inn (Club Vacances Les inc.) actively participates in the project for the amount of $412, 334.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

High Winds Blast Magdalen Islands Again

Island Chalet Washed Away

La Martinique - Residents of the Magdalen Islands have been concerned about erosion for several years now but after high winds swept a chalet away from it's foundation damaged several other homes yesterday, the concern will become much greater.

Fortunately no one was injured when gale-force winds blustered across the islands and blew down a few summer homes near the shore. The chalet in question was knocked off its posts early in the morning during a fierce windstorm.

Two walls were torn off and furniture was flung down the beach, including a sofa bed, kitchen chairs and a propane tank.  Power lines kept the house on a loose tether that didn't stop the waves from beating down on it, Deraspe said.

"All day, we were battered by waves," he said. Mr. Deraspe tied what was left of the cottage to large boulders on the beach. He estimates the damage will cost him up to $40,000.

Islanders are worried about the weather and believe storms are more frequent now than in previous years, Deraspe said. Several other homes on the shore were damaged by high water levels that caused flooding.

Waves are eating away the shoreline and a mild winter meant there wasn't enough ice cover in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to absorb the impact. SandCove beach, which is normally high above the sea and at least 20 wide, is non-existent and the waves are chewing away at the sandy capes, as the photo shows. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Canadian Seal Hunt Vindicated?

United States Humane Society Stands Accused!

The United States Humane Society has been accused of using unjust methods to illegally influence the European Parliament to impose a boycott of seal products last year. The methods have been considered a tactic of the Mafia and the SPCA now is the subject of a lawsuit before the U.S. Federal Courts.

The USSPCA has been the main opponent of the Canadian seal Hunt for many years and has been a serious thorn in the side for Magdalen Islands seal hunters.  Now they face prosecution under the RICO anti-mafia law because they have been accused of having paid $190,000 for false testimony.

Theses illegal methods which have been described as Mafia type actions were used against members of the European Parliament before the vote that imposed a boycott fo seal products in Europe last year.  One such member, Miels Busk of Denmark, said that he was threatened by the Humane society if he did not vote for the boycott.

The alleged conduct of the Humane Society was uncovered by the Consumer Freedom Center for American consumers.  David Martosko, director of the Research Center for US consumers said that they do not know yet how far this organization has gone to influence the decisions of European Parliamentary members.  

The philosophy of these animal groups is quite simple, said Martosko. All animals are people in the eyes of these groups including the seal.  David Martosko believes that a jury could put the Humane Society and its partners like the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Protection) into bankruptcy.  The trial might begin as early as June 2010.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Seal Hunt 2010

The Canadian Seal Hunt will officially open on March 28, 2010 but here on the islands the hunters are not prepared to go.  They realize that they have no hope in reaching the herd safely.  Earlier this month, the seal watching expeditions were canceled because there was no ice in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. There is still no ice and the seal didn’t have their pups here even though the herd is estimated to be 7 million head. 

There is a substantial loss of income to the tourist trade on the islands. The Chateau Madelinot (an island motel) which is normally filled to capacity this time of the year, remains closed as well as shops and boutiques who cater to the influx of seal watching visitors.

The economic loss to workers of the seal processing plant TAMASU and the hunters will amount to over six million dollars. For an area as small as the Magdalen Islands, the amount may be devastating for many families. As much as 25% to 30% of the yearly income for many fishermen come from the seal hunt.

Seal hunter, Réjean Vigneau, owner of Boucherie Côte à Côte (Coast to Coast Butchery) affirmed that on Sunday March 28, there is little chance that islanders will take part in the hunt.  The herd has been found in the Strait of Belle Isle and good 30 hours sailing from the islands. The herd is close to land and there are under water rocks and shoals in the area. Also the herd has settled on the inside of a swell in the ice.

It is unlikely that Mr. Vigneau will be able to provide for the twenty or so island restaurants, which would purchase approximately 40,000 pounds of seal meat this year.

In addition to suffering an economic loss, workers, hunters and fishermen helpers will also have less government support in the form of employment insurance next fall.