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THE QUEBEC REGION BULLETIN
JUNE - JULY 2009/VOLUME 12/NUMBER 3
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COMMUNITY SHELLFISH
MANAGEMENT ON THE GASPÉ PENINSULA
Clam diggers at the Bonaventure shellfish area DFO C. Major Clam diggers at the Bonaventure shellfish area

DFO C. Major

This spring, the community of Bonaventure achieved a first in Quebec. A citizen’s committee took charge of reopening a shellfish area that can now be managed by the community in collaboration with the relevant authorities.

For some time, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has sought to involve communities in the management of some inshore resources. The Bonaventure project is a fine example of this.

A SUCCESS STORY

In fall 2003, after holding several consultations with the community, the Comité ZIP Baie des Chaleur (a priority intervention area committee) submitted to DFO a community shellfish management model inspired by North American and European models.

At the same time, a citizens’ committee was formed to reopen a shellfish bed in the Bonaventure area that had been closed for several years because of contamination.

In 2006, all the right conditions were in place. Bonaventure was identified as being one of the most suitable shellfish areas for community management and Environment Canada was considering the possibility of recommending that one section of this sector be opened for a few days.

In April 2007, the first objective was achieved: shellfish harvesting was to be permitted for a period of 9 consecutive days.

In 2009, supported by funding obtained via the Community Interaction Program, the Table de concertation du littoral de Bonaventure completed implementation of the community management model drawn up by the Comité ZIP.

A VICTIM OF ITS SUCCESS

The popularity of this first shellfish harvest was astounding! As many as 400 people per day joined in the harvest at this clam bed. To reduce the fishing effort, the number of harvesting days was cut to 5 in 2008 and then to 3 in 2009. The daily clam limit was cut from 120 per person in 2007 to 80 in 2008 and then 60 in 2009.

A WELL-STRUCTURED COOPERATIVE EFFORT

The management measures in effect in 2009 are the outcome of a biomass assessment conducted in April 2009 by DFO biologists and a team of volunteers. These management measures were applied by the citizens’ committee on a voluntary basis in response to Ministry recommendations.

Les membres du comité de citoyens posent des affiches de sensibilisation. MPO C. Major
Members of the Citizen’s Committee putting up posters to raise awareness
MPO C. Major

While harvesting is underway, volunteers oversee the activity, identifying the sector’s boundaries and access to the clam bed while providing some monitoring and gathering data on the number of clams harvested.

This is fine example of collaboration between the community, the various DFO branches and the two other departments responsible for applying the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program – Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.


Michel Lemay
Gaspe – Lower St. Lawrence Area