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A Fragile Tradition

Eel used to be fished almost everywhere along the St. Lawrence River in Québec. Today, it is fished by only a few people, who are keeping alive what is often a family tradition. Families in Rivière-Ouelle, for example, have been fishing eel for over 200 years.

Since there are no written or classroom training programs for eel fishing, people learn this occupation by watching and working with experienced fishers in the field, starting in childhood. In fact, they have to work for at least two years as fishing assistants before they can obtain a fishing licence.

Know-How Acquired Starting in Childhood – View this video with a transcript

Can this tradition survive?

Farmer-fishers often gave or sold the land owned by their family to the son who was the most interested in having it or was in the best health. The son used the land for the same activities as his father had done before him, including eel fishing. Today, it is not very easy or common for children to take over this type of fishing from their parents, but there are some exceptions!

The Next Generation of Eel Fishers – View this video with a transcript

Fishers in the Côte-du-Sud region are aware of the important role they play in preserving traditions for future generations.

Keeping a Family Tradition Alive – View this video with a transcript

In spite of all the efforts being made to increase or at least maintain the American eel population, will there be enough American eel in the coming years to justify the investment and work required to operate an eel fishery?