Place women’s masters

Place aux femmes capitaines

Gaël Poirier

Under-represented in the field of fisheries, women captains of lobster boats that say they have been victims of bullying wish that attitudes are changing in their male dominated domain.

When she was younger, on the boat of her father, Alexandra Labbé could see in the distance a woman at the controls of a lobster boat red. That woman was Suzanne Bond. “I was in awe not just” to see a woman exercise, ” says Alexandra, who has learned his craft by following in the footsteps of his father, now deceased from cancer of the lungs.



Suzanne, who lives in Pabos, Gaspésie, has been captain for over 14 years. It is her husband, who is always captain, who had encouraged her to run. “There were no women “fishermen” in that time,” recalls the lady of 62 years who was forced to retire last year for health reasons.

Because they are women

In the south of the Gaspé peninsula, less than 3% of lobster fishing licences are held by women. If they agree that their business is wonderful, Suzanne and Alexandra also agree on the fact that they have not always been easy.

“I was fly, really fly out of the cages. Cut my buoys, put their buoys to use my cage… How many times I get up to the cages and there was nothing in the cage? For a cage or two, it can go, but when you find yourself with 10, 15, 20 traps, you say oh…”, was still horrified Suzanne, often considered not to exert a profession more conventional as that of a nurse, for example.

After only a few years as captain, Alexandra, 31 years old, said to have already lived a similar situation. “I was missing 30 [cages],” denounces it. And they are not afraid to say, they have been targeted because they are women.



“A captain woman hump a man, that is not the whole world which likes it. […] With some fishermen, it is more jealous. They are more a pain in the ass. There are, in their mentality, it’s like “woman, you have no business here.” But I like better to forget about it,” agreed Alexandra.

According to the two captains, the craft is evolving slowly leaving, slowly but surely, the space for women who would like to have a fishing business in their turn. “Why we can’t become a airplane pilot? We can do it all. There is nothing that stops a woman”, says Suzanne.

A season in uncertainty

Fishing season shortened, the devaluation of the product in grocery stores, distancing physical impossible on their small boat: the stakes are high for lobster since the beginning of their season, and this despite the federal support of $ 470 million to come to their aid.

“We are all in the same boat, this is the case,” says Alexandra Labbé, captain of a lobster boat.



With a very low demand on the part of the restorers, the captain is worried that the price of lobster is so low that the local fishermen are no longer able to cover their operational expenses (employees ‘ wages, gasoline, prices, bait, etc.).

“There is no market, everything is blocked… Asia, Europe, everything! That fact that nothing comes out yet. They have stocks in New Brunswick for the month of November that they have not yet liquidated,” explains for his part, Suzanne Bond, captain retired, but also the spouse of a captain who regained the wide last week.

“The distancing, it is impossible. There is no other word: IMPOSSIBLE”, ton also one that is concerned for the health of the fishermen of his region, many of whom are elderly.

The two captains pleading with Quebecers to buy the lobster here and remind us of the importance of ensuring that the lobster wear a medallion of traceability, which confirms to consumers in their local purchase.

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