Ne pas enlever ce code qui permet l'affichage de l'image dans la bannière du portail

Aquarium du Québec – SEPAQ - Data information

Stations and fishing gear

From 1944 until the beginning of the experimental activities in 1961, daily catches were recorded at Arthur Matte’s weir fishing site in Neuville (about 30 km upstream of the Aquarium) and were carefully archived at the Aquarium du Québec. Since 1961, the experimental fishery has been located at four different sites (Robitaille et al., 1987):

  1. on the south shore of St. Lawrence River, less than 500 m downstream from the mouth of Chaudière River (1961–1962);
  2. on the north shore, close to the Aquarium du Québec (1963–1969);
  3. on the north shore, about 100 m upstream of Pierre Laporte bridge (1970);
  4. on the south shore at Saint-Nicolas, 100 m upstream of Pierre Laporte bridge (1971–2014).

Different types of weir fisheries were used during two distinct periods of activities between 1944 and 2014:

  1. 1944 to 1970;
  2. 1971 to 2014.

A detailed description of the fishing gear used between 1944 and 1970 is not available. However, the traditional weir fishing gear used by fishermen of that period was described by Dr. Vadim D. Vladykov and detailed in publications by Bergeron et al. (1972) and Robitaille et al. (1987). It is therefore very likely that the gear used by the Aquarium du Québec and those of the commercial fishermen were similar. The traditional weir fishing gear consisted of a slightly smaller box trap than the one used starting in 1971, with one-inch hexagonal steel mesh and only one upstream wing net.

In 1971, as part of a program to improve traditional fishing gear, an experimental trap was built and achieved catches three to six times higher than those obtained by the traditional gear (Bergeron et al., 1972; Bergeron et al., 1973; Bergeron and Johnson, 1974; Johnson and Bergeron, 1975). Apart from the addition of wing nets in 1973–1974, the gear was unchanged through 2014. It has been repaired many times or completely rebuilt when damaged, but always following the same design and without causing any noticeable differences in potential catchability (Bernier et al., 1996; de Lafontaine et al., 2010).

Basic principles of the fishing gear

The general principal of weir fishing involves intercepting fish and redirecting them to a closed box where they remain trapped and are easy to collect. The Aquarium du Québec’s trap is a modified “de l’île d’Orléans”-type weir (Robitaille et al., 1987) traditionally used by American eel fishers from the Lower St. Lawrence. The gear is set in the intertidal zone and is covered and uncovered by the tide, which allows the capture of a large variety of fish species found in the coastal zone. The trap consists of three main components: a leader line, two wing nets set in a “V” shape, and a port (Figure 2).

Fish that follow the shore are intercepted by the leader line, which is perpendicular to the shore. It consists of a 1¼-inch mesh net that is stretched from the beach to the port and is supported by fixing cables regularly spaced at 2 m intervals. Its role is to guide fish toward the narrow entrance of the port. On either side of this entrance, two wing nets are spread upstream and downstream that converge on the leader line; these act to drive fish toward the trap’s entrance. The ports is made of posts with a solid wooden floor surrounded by rocks and with a one-inch steel mesh net covering the upper walls and ceiling. The lower part of the port consists of a ½-inch steel mesh net overlaid by wooden planks to a height of 60 cm. The port is set at the lower limit of the intertidal zone (about 95 m from the shore) and is separated into several funnel-shaped chambers that lead to the final catch container. When the tide is at its lowest, fish can be collected with a dip-net (Moussette, 1979, de Lafontaine et al., 2002).

Figure 2: Plan of the Aquarium du Québec’s experimental fishing gear.
Source: Denis Labonté and Yves de Lafontaine.

General operations of the fishery

Each year, the fishing gear is set in the intertidal zone in spring and removed in late fall before the ice season begins. All fishing operations were entrusted to two commercial fishermen: Mr. Fernand Gingras (1971–1988, 1992–1995) and Mr. Bernard Côté (1989–1991, 1996–2014). Recording of the catches is normally done at each low tide—twice a day—between 15 May and 31 October of each year if weather conditions permit access to the gear.

At each visit to the gear, the fisherman identified fish species and counted the number of individuals per species before releasing them alive back to the river through a small door on the rear side of the trap. Data were then recorded on paper forms and transmitted to the Aquarium. Methodological considerations relevant to data interpretation and the potential use of the fishery data are described in Bernier et al. (1996) and de Lafontaine et al. (2002).

Data availability

The database includes catch information for 70 fish species recorded at the different fisheries operated between 1944 and 2014 at Saint-Nicolas and Neuville. The database’s structure makes it possible to quickly trace and associate the catches with fishing activities and with the various characteristics of the activity (for example, the fishing site, methodology, fishermen). From 1971 to 2014, the Aquarium du Québec’s experimental trap fishery was visited 13,875 times and a total of 614,145 fishes were reported (Table 1). From 1944 to 1957, the Neuville fishery was visited 3,537 times and a total of 24,439 fishes were reported (Table 2).

Table 1: Aquarium du Québec’s experimental fishery at Saint-Nicolas

Year Fishing start date Fishing end date Number of visits to weir Number of fish Number of fish species
1971 1971-05-21 1971-11-12 310 49 721 40
1972 1972-05-28 1972-10-31 304 51 345 38
1973 1973-05-29 1973-10-31 297 18 804 39
1974 1974-06-17 1974-10-31 264 18 034 36
1975 1975-05-16 1975-10-31 320 15 726 47
1976 1976-05-14 1976-10-31 327 19 516 44
1977 1977-05-15 1977-10-31 326 16 011 46
1978 1978-05-15 1978-10-31 327 13 043 41
1979 1979-05-15 1979-10-31 329 13 956 41
1980 1980-06-01 1980-10-31 296 11 009 40
1981 1981-05-16 1981-10-31 326 13 328 42
1982 1982-05-15 1982-10-31 328 10 545 44
1983 1983-05-19 1983-10-31 320 9 467 42
1984 1984-05-15 1984-10-31 328 12 993 44
1985 1985-05-15 1985-10-31 328 12 385 45
1986 1986-05-15 1986-10-31 325 10 191 41
1987 1987-05-15 1987-10-31 329 7 913 42
1988 1988-05-15 1988-10-31 326 9 423 45
1989 1989-05-15 1989-10-31 297 6 132 41
1990 1990-05-15 1990-11-01 325 9 034 41
1991 1991-05-16 1991-10-31 324 8 741 37
1992 1992-05-15 1992-10-31 328 12 232 42
1993 1993-05-15 1993-10-31 328; 15 630 41
1994 1994-05-15 1994-10-31 328 14 087 45
1995 1995-05-15 1995-10-31 329 14 957 49
1996 1996-05-15 1996-10-31 323 16 101 43
1997 1997-05-24 1997-11-16 317 12 368 43
1998 1998-05-14 1998-10-31 328 10 271 39
1999 1999-05-14 1999-10-31 330 14 794 45
2000 2000-05-14 2000-10-31 327 11 549 52
2001 2001-05-15 2001-10-31 320 9 950 44
2002 2002-05-16 2002-10-31 321 15 909 50
2003 2003-05-14 2003-10-31 330 9 926 46
2004 2004-05-15 2004-10-31 325 10 179 44
2005 2005-05-15 2005-10-31 312 11 055 37
2006 2006-05-15 2006-10-31 312 13 976 42
2007 2007-05-15 2007-10-31 325 11 909 37
2008 2008-05-20 2008-10-31 306 14 365 41
2009 2009-05-17 2009-10-31 311 12 905 36
2010 2010-06-30 2010-10-31 236 10 450 33
2011 2011-06-03 2011-10-31 275 9 634 36
2012 2012-05-31 2012-10-31 296 10 123 33
2013 2013-05-28 2013-10-31 302 8 573 32
2014 2014-05-24 2014-10-31 310 5 885 29

Table 2: Arthur Matte’s commercial fishery at Neuville

Year Fishing start date Fishing end date Number of visits to weir Number of fish Number of fish species
1944 1944-09-10 1944-11-30 135 2 235 11
1945 1945-06-07 1945-11-23 319 4 149 19
1946 - - - - -
1947 1947-07-18 1947-11-24 235 1 914 11
1948 1948-06-03 1948-12-03 317 2 294 11
1949 1949-05-06 1949-11-23 358 2 107 11
1950 1950-05-10 1950-11-24 349 1 902 11
1951 1951-06-01 1951-11-19 301 2 395 13
1952 - - - - -
1953 1953-05-26 1953-12-05 318 1 481 11
1954 1954-06-20 1954-12-01 266 934 9
1955 1955-06-01 1955-11-19 293 1 626 10
1956 1956-05-14 1956-11-19 318 1 579 8
1957 1957-05-10 1957-11-25 328 1 823 9