Gaspé Lobster Fishers Leaving their Mark
Since the start of the 2013 fishing season, Gaspé lobsters have been marked with a coded label identifying the fisherman who caught them, a procedure applied to all fishermen. This initial traceability procedure, from ocean to plate, gives consumers peace of mind in knowing that they are eating lobster from Quebec.
At monhomard.ca, consumers can enter the code and watch a video on their fisherman.
The label is the result of a collaborative project between fishermen, the Agri-Traçabilité division of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (which attributes a number code to each fisherman), and the Gaspé–Lower St. Lawrence Area Office of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (which provides information in order to estimate the required number of coded labels, based on landings from the previous year).
An unusual collaborator is also involved in the project, as the Regroupement des pêcheurs has established a one-year partnership with the Fédération des producteurs de lait du Québec for the coded label. The milk producers therefore benefit from publicity for their product most closely related to eating lobster with a simple message on the back of the label: I love butter.
Lobster fishing is the main inshore fishery in the Gaspésie. Gaspé lobster fishermen have always worked very hard to promote the conservation and sustainable development of lobsters by adopting a series of measures that sometimes hinder companies' revenues. Several management and monitoring measures have been adopted to protect the resource and decrease the fishing effort. The Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie is also involved in lobster productivity, biodiversity protection, and habitat improvement.
Traceability is one of a number of steps in the ecocertification process undertaken by lobster fishermen. Ecocertification will ultimately make this fishery known for sustainable harvesting, which, in the context of globalization, will remain a significant asset for marketing Gaspé lobsters.
Next step for 2014: collaborate with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to establish a precautionary approach that will ensure sustainability of the resource.
Hats off to our fishermen!
Vincent Malouin, Director
Gaspé–Lower St. Lawrence Area