Seal: commercial processing on the continent soon?


Could seal meat, currently processed commercially in a single butcher’s shop in the Magdalen Islands, soon be processed in factories on the continent dedicated to seafood products? At least that’s what the Association of Intra-Quebec Seal Hunters and the Gaspé science museum Exploramer, behind the Fourchette bleue certification, are hoping.

We are currently in discussions to try to get new factories to move towards seal processing., immediately launches the general director of Exploreramer, Sandra Gauthier. The manager also notes a great openness on the part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec (MAPAQ) to develop this issue.

We are talking about increasing the performance of certain factories. By processing seal meat in winter, it makes it possible to sustain fish factories. This allows us to democratize access to this meatadds Ms. Gauthier.

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Sandra Gauthier is the founder of Fourchette bleue, a certification which promotes little-known species from the Saint-Laurent and which encourages gourmets to consume them.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

Ms. Gauthier recalls that the seal is intended to be a resource abundant which harms minimum eight fish stocks. She therefore believes that the province would have everything to gain, from a sustainable development perspective, by facilitating its consumption.

A single butcher’s shop for a province of eight million inhabitants is very little.

Gil Thériault, director of the Association of Intra-Quebec Seal Hunters, believes that democratization cannot rhyme with monopoly. He also believes that having facilities capable of processing seal meat on the continent would be very useful, as the transport of the product constitutes a significant barrier to its consumption.

The product arrives there and it is even more expensive even though it is already, after all, a luxury product, a niche producthe notes.

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Gil Thériault is also interim director of the Association of Coastal Fishermen of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

Mr. Thériault specifies, for example, that hunting squads are already well established on the North Shore, where recipes based on seal are also circulating. He explains that it is also not interesting for these north coastal hunters to have their meat processed on the archipelago.

It’s not about competition. […] I think that complementarity could be established by having more places where we could produce seal meat commercially. It’s to everyone’s advantage.


For this project to see the light of day, however, it will be necessary, he specifies, to train hunters and ensure that the permits necessary for the activities of the participating factories are obtained. There are many steps aheadadmits Gil Thériault.

While the idea has already been discussed for several years, Mr. Thériault hopes that this transformation will begin as early as the next hunting season. In my opinion, it will still take a few years before the wheels are well oiled. I would put that over a three-year horizon.he adds, specifying that the seasons are short.

Alone in the decor

The Côte à Côte specialized butcher shop is currently the only one in Quebec to process sea bass. One of its co-owners, Réjean Vigneau, is working hard to ensure that this emblematic product of the archipelago is found more and more on the plates of Quebecers.

Réjean Vigneau

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Réjean Vigneau is delighted at the idea of ​​other companies processing seal, but warns that it will not be easy for them.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Roxanne Langlois

The Madelinot butcher and hunter enthusiastically sees the idea of ​​other processors joining him. It’s good. Really, there is roomadds Mr. Vigneau, specifying that his company does not meet demand.

Réjean Vigneau, however, warns interested companies: seal is the most complicated meat to bring to market. The businessman warns that pitfalls are indeed to be expected. If it were simple, I wouldn’t be alone in the decor.

Seal rillette from the Côte à Côte butcher shop in the Magdalen Islands

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Seal rillette from the Côte à Côte butcher shop in the Magdalen Islands.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Elisa Serret

Mr. Vigneau specifies in particular that the two levels of government do not view seal products in the same light in their regulations. While the federal government talks about fishing, the provincial government sees it more as hunting. Thus, the processing of this chair in Quebec amounts to slaughter, whereas it falls within the courtyard, elsewhere in the country, of factories that process fish.

We can’t do what we want with this meat. You can be a hero, but you can become a zero very quickly. You have to be vigilant, have training, explains Mr. Vigneau. He also notes that public opinion fuels false perceptions that can harm this transformation.

At the time of publishing these lines, the MAPAQ did not respond to Radio-Canada’s request for an interview.



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