The season was supposed to start the 1st of April, but a series of unfortunate circumstances made it so that the shrimp fishermen are still, ten weeks later, held up at the dock. Before the importance of the crisis, they have begged the government to come to their aid.
The shrimp harvesters in Quebec and Atlantic provinces are now deprived of their livelihood because of the levels of inventories are high in the processing factories, notably in the Gaspé peninsula, but also on the international market.
“The processing plants do not want to take our shrimp. The markets are closed then for us, there are no activities,” says Pierre Jenniss, chief adviser responsible for the commercial fisheries of the maliseet First Nation, significant fishermen in the East-of-Québec.
As the inventories are also high, processors are not interested to buy new stocks of shrimp for the price of the season, ” continues Mr. Jenniss.
To survive the crisis, the shrimp fishermen of Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, which are part of five native nations, have formed a coalition in order to seek measures of assistance to governments.
The shrimp require in particular that the government eliminate the cost of a fishing licence for 2020 and easing of the eligibility criteria of the employment insurance program for the sector.
However, governments have so far acceded to the requests of the collection, says Mr. Jenniss.
“We want to have the accessibility to existing programs that would be simply adapted to our fishing, that’s all. You don’t ask for miracles,” he said.
The processing plants supported
However, the processing plants, they also severely affected by the crisis in the sector of the shrimp fishery, were entitled to aid.
“The plants in the Gaspé peninsula, have all received grants from the MAPAQ (ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec] and of the federal. They got loans and all sorts of measures to help”, says Mr. Jenniss.
A situation that contrasts with that of the fishermen. “The catching sector has been completely forgotten. There was absolutely nothing received,” said the chief counselor.
The sector of the shrimp fishery represents more than 3,000 jobs in Quebec, mainly in the East-du-Québec, in the Côte-Nord and Gaspésie.
“Entire villages are dependent on this industry and it is forgotten,” said Pierre Jenniss.