Quebecers are fishing more than ever in lakes and rivers this summer, as confirmed by a record number of licenses sold to residents of the province.
“I don’t know how many friends I helped make several Fishing beginners. “People of my age, who have never set foot in a boat in their lives,” says Maxime Lavoye, 20, who witnessed the excitement with his girlfriend Anne Bloin, at Lake Saint-François, in Monterrey.
Statistics from the Ministry of Forestry, de la Faune et des Parcs speak for themselves: nearly 730 thousand hunting licenses were sold to Quebecers this year. An unprecedented number since data were collected in 1998.
That’s an increase of about 75,000 permits from last year, according to the division’s director of communications, Patrick Harvey.
“There is an incredible influx this year into the water bodies and in the fishing shops. People are discovering this activity because they are staying in Quebec due to sanitary measures,” testifies François Prince, an experienced fisherman from the Montreal region, who is preparing for a “big fishing trip” north of Vermont, On the North Shore, at the end of August.
Some, such as Pierre Alexandre Poirier, even prefer to fish at night or early morning to avoid crowding on the water or in “outfitters and controlled areas.” [zec] which has been completely sold out.
Even the absence of foreign tourists goes unnoticed. They bought half as many passes as they did last year, but the places they left vacant on the waterways have been able to fill with new enthusiasts.
“The summer season is excellent, Quebecers are there,” said Mark Blourd, president and CEO of the Federation of Quebec Outfitters.
Boom for salmon
In particular, salmon fishing is attracting more and more Quebecers.
This is a wildlife activity [qui est] The most increasing in recent years,” says biologist and general director of the Quebec Atlantic Salmon Federation, Myriam Bergeron.
“With the pandemic, we are really seeing a boom in Quebecers discovering the sport. Salmon fishing is a great excuse to visit the areas.
“The fact that the Americans could not come this year allowed people from here to fish for salmon on the rivers Gaspi, such as Bonaventura and Cascapedia. I find it excellent!” rejoices Mr. Prince.
Madness for this disturbing activity
Frequent fishermen on Quebec’s lakes and rivers restrict already difficult access to water bodies and can reduce populations of certain fish.
When buying a hunting license, people say to themselves: “Wow, this is cheerful“. But when it’s time to go fishing, they realize that the outfitters are full and it’s impossible to put a boat in the water. People buy fishing licenses, but they can’t go fishing,” laments the founder of the Sports Fishermen Association of Quebec, Stéphane Bourgeois.
400 dollars a day
Since 2009, an experienced fisherman has been trying to democratize access to water bodies in the province.
He denounced the exorbitant prices that several municipalities demand from non-resident fishermen.
For example, in Saint-Hippolyte in the Laurentians, “It costs $400 a day to launch a boat,” protested APSQ activist Jack Fadeboncourt, a Musklung fishing guide in Lac de Two Mountains.
In addition, water traffic is also of concern to some experts.
They fear the declining numbers of some of the species that fishermen look for in Quebec, such as trout, fisheye or salmon.
“The fishing season is going really well, but it’s going really well. It’s creating tremendous pressure on the lakes,” says Gabriel Morin, a fishing guide at a factory about 100 kilometers from Mont Laurier, in Laurentians.
And “if everyone left with their daily ration of six walleyes per person, the lake would empty very quickly,” explains the wildlife conservation graduate.
“We’ve seen visitors use the area and don’t always know how to control themselves,” biologist and general manager of the Quebec Federation of Atlantic Salmon, Myriam Bergeron, testifies in turn.
“People will be traveling in riverbeds in vehicles, it breaks the ecosystem. It is very dangerous,” she warns.
The Director of Communications for the Department of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Patrick Harvey, asserts that a significant increase in the sale of fishing licenses could have an impact on certain fish populations.
He adds that it is too early to assess this.
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