Friday, January 21, 2011

Erosion Is Becoming An Extreme Concern on the Islands

As the 2011 Seal Hunt Approaches Protests Escalates

Léonce Arseneau

A complaint has been filed with the Quebec Police Force, Sûreté du Québec Îles-de-la-Madeleine, by certain members of the Madelinot Community. The problem has arrived with the FaceBook Group Page called “La Chasse aux phoques, stop aux mensonges”, (The seal hunt, stop the lies). The complaint alleges that anti-seal hunt activists have made online threats to kill them and their families.

The justified evidence that is now in the hands of the investigators are emails sent to the administrators of the Group Page and messages posted to discussion boards and social networking websites.

Everything is in the hands of investigators from Quebec provincial police," said island resident Léonce Arsenault, who has founded a pro-seal hunt page on Facebook.

Mr. Arseneau had said that some of the alleged threats called for the seal hunters to be slaughtered.

"Some dead sealers? I want to see it again and again and again," read one post from an anonymous writer. The poster welcomed the death of four Quebec sealers who died during a botched coast guard towing operation in 2008.

"Lots of sealers blood everywhere, everywhere, everywhere," the post said.

The Magdalen Islander has also provided police with comments posted on Facebook.

"Quick ... we're organizing a massacre of seal killers. Who wants to participate?" said one post.

"Their family members should be killed in the same (way) while they watch," another activist wrote in a forum.
Arsenault said the violent postings constitute propaganda that could influence people to act. "They're trying to demonize a group, in this case seal hunters and islanders," said Arsenault. "They're inciting violence. This is serious."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Distinguishing Magdalen Islands Lobster

Over the past two years, the prices of seafood has pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel. The price of lobster plummeted from approximately $6.50CDN to $2.50CDN at the wharf. The industry is suffering and the fishermen even more. This makes the price of lobster far less than the price of beef or pork or even process meat substitutes. Lobster is still considered a luxury food.

On the islands, a renewable resource strategy was put in place in the late nineties and has been working well in spite of the lower prices giving the islands an excellent name for high quality, large lobster full of sweet meat. However, although islands lobster are well known through eastern Quebec, it is relatively unknown throughout the world as Islands lobster gets mixed into the fray.

What is relatively unknown to the world is that the lobster in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence is living in an environment that is fed great quantities of cold, fresh water coming down the Saint Lawrence Seaway. This water is mixing with the salt water from the Atlantic giving the density of salt around 50% normally found in lobster waters. This gives Magdalen Islands lobster more of the sweet/salt taste that is generally preferred.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ – Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec) has decided to prepare a marketing strategy to help processors of seafood markets in Quebec and the United States.

The organization, Transformation Alimentaire Québec (TRANSAQ) MAPAQ is leading this important project for the sustainable future of fisheries. With declining prices for seafood, the Associate Deputy Minister and Director General of TRANSAQ, Dominique Fortin, just completed a tour of eastern Quebec.
According to her, two things that must be done are unanimous in the industry:
1.     Strengthen marketing in companies of fisheries and aquaculture;
2.     Increase awareness of marine products from Quebec.

The department plans include improving the tools available within MAPAQ. It also plans to organize meetings between the heads of major grocery chains in Quebec and industry. Through various means, MAPAQ will present more marketing of seafood products from Quebec.  

"Everyone is in agreement with the fact that among seafood transformation companies, we must strengthen the marketing function," she said.

Magdalen Islands Lobster

Cape Dauphin Fishermen's COOP in
Grosse Isle
The Fishermen's Association’s of the Magdalen Islands also has the MAPAQ support in their efforts to have an eco-certification and traceability of the islands lobster.

According to the deputy minister, the law on naming rights of the origin of food would distinguish Islands lobster from lobster of Eastern Canada and the world.

"The islands lobster is recognized within Quebec as Quebeckers want. Outside Quebec, there may be other people who want it too. We must distinguish it from other lobster," she says.

Negotiations are under way to adopt a new name for next season.