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Pandemic complicates the organization of salmon fishing

Translation of French language article on Radio-Canada – ici Gaspésie

Salmon fishing will begin Monday morning on certain rivers in the Gaspé and North Shore region. Due to the pandemic, the season will be uncertain, especially for organizations that usually receive several fishermen from away.

The challenges of the pandemic are different from place to place.

In the case of the Matane River, approximately 60% of the fishermen normally come from other regions.

“Since non-essential trips like travelling to a river are not recommended, uncertainty is the only constant”, according to the director general of the Société de gestion de la rivière Matane, Sébastien Lavoie.

“Our high season starts in early July and it’s when people from away travel here he explains. So, for the moment, as long as we don’t know what the loosening will be in terms of public health recommendations, it will be hard to predict.”

We always anticipate the worst, as good managers, he adds. The staff will certainly be reduced. We will also reduce our hours of operations. We have also adapted our to allow for physical distancing and comply with health standards.

Concerns in Gaspé and on the North Shore

The situation is even more worrying in Gaspé. The general manager of the Société de gestion des rivières de Gaspé, Rémi Lesmerises, indicates that four out of five fishermen usually come from outside the region.

If nothing changes, if we stay with the current situation all summer, we will suffer major losses. We will take advantage of government aid but that will not compensate for the losses incurred.

On the North Shore, the president of the Moisie River Protection Association wonders how he can honor the packages sold to foreign fishermen.

If we do not honor our angling trip sales, it will have an impact not only on this year, but on next year as well he anticipates. So currently, we are working with the various stakeholders on the river to see what we can do and what packages we will manage to honor.

Different situation in Rimouski

In Rimouski, everything is not so bad on the river. The season even promises to be very good since the fishermen come largely from the region, according to the director general of the Rimouski salmon ZEC, Karen Guimond.

“We already had the annual draw which went off very well. Almost all of our angling-rod-days are already booked.”

It will be possible to fish for salmon starting today on the York, Dartmouth and Saint-Jean rivers in Gaspé, as well as in the Moisie river on the North Shore.

The season had been scheduled to start on May 15 in certain sectors of the Matapedia and Causapscal rivers, but was postponed until June 1st.

Report by Jean-François Deschênes