Video by the Musée de la mémoire vivante
Informant: Guy Verreault, wildlife biologist
Date: November 28, 2016
Location: Rivière-du-Loup (Québec)
Guy Verreault explains that fishers are the eyes of field biologists.
A close-up head and shoulder view of Guy Verreault appears on the screen. He is facing the camera and gestures with his hands from time to time as he speaks.
[Guy Verreault] Fishers are extremely important. They’re the ones who first warned us in the ‘80s. When I say “us”, I mean government agencies. I think we understand that when biologists are in their offices in Rivière-du-Loup, Québec City or elsewhere, they’re not in the field.
Fishers are present at every low tide. They’re there twice a day for two months, from the end of August until the middle of November. They see exactly what’s going on. They know that things were better last year and better still 10 to 20 years ago because it’s their families who’ve been directly affected. Fishers are our sentinels on the river, not only for eel but for every other type of fish as well. They’re there; they really see what’s going to happen all the time. So it’s important to always have fishers.
Once again, fishers not only catch eel, but they also see many other types of fish. Once again, they’re our eyes and ears. For example, they let us know what’s happening with striped bass these days. Most of the striped bass they catch in their fishing gear are returned to the water alive. However, they recover some of them for us – fish that were going to die from natural causes, fish that probably would have died for all sorts of other reasons. This represents a real gold mine for us. We don’t even have to send our people into the field. Fishers do the work for us on a volunteer basis. They provide us with specimens that have scientific and management value – a value that’s truly extraordinary. We can collect data from these individuals that we wouldn’t be able to obtain otherwise.
So yes, fishers are useful. Yes, fishers are necessary. And yes, I hope that fishers will continue to be here for many years to come.