The fishing industry is calling for the extension of the main runway at the Îles-de-la-Madeleine airport to develop the export of live lobster.
For now, the Cap Dauphin Fishermen’s Coop has more demand than supply for the product it ships in bulk by truck to the Maritimes and New England. But its general manager, Ruth Taker, anticipates difficulties in supplying these markets in the future due to the shortage of labor and the lack of succession in the trucking industry.
It also plans to invest in a mechanized lobster weight-grading line to meet the requirements of new, more lucrative markets such as Toronto and Vancouver. “It’s an investment project of about $400,000,” she said. But to justify such an expense, we first need an airport runway capable of accommodating large cargo planes.
The director general of the Quebec Association of the fishing industry (AQIP), Jean-Paul Gagné, agrees with him. On the strength of a new study on the market outlook for lobster in Ontario, published last month by Papilles développement, he notes that consumer demand has doubled in Toronto between 2019 and 2021. “The MAPAQ (Ministry of Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec), which paid for part of our study, is ready to support the development of the Toronto market, said Mr. Gagné. We are talking about a $700,000, $800,000 project over a three-year period. […] But there, everything is on ice, as long as there is no airstrip or solution for air transport.
Lobster buyers paid more than $102 million to Magdalen fishermen last year. “It’s important for the Islands, insisted the director general of AQIP. So, even if it would cost $10 million for the track, spread over ten years, I think there would be an interesting return on investment.