All about lobster > Gaspé Peninsula lobster, the most highly recommended in the world
The Gaspé lobster is practically perfect, as confirmed by the Marine Stewardship Council's (MSC) ecocertification. Only 252 groups of fishermen around the world have been granted this ecocertification. And when it comes to fishing, with all resources combined, it takes in the entire world.
This is the only lobster in the world whose journey can be traced back from your plate to the lobster fisherman, in addition to being certified by the MSC. It's the only lobster that meets numerous strict sustainable fishing criteria and bears a medallion telling you which fisherman captured it.
The lobster-harvesting season started May 3rd at 4H00 AM. Despite brisk temperatures, 160 owner-captains, with their assistants, set out to put out their lobster cages.
Lobster fished by members of the Professional Fishermen's Association of Southern Gaspésie is tastier, because it comes from the rocky seabeds and cold clear waters of the northern gulf of St. Lawrence. Gaspé peninsula lobster molts only once a year (late summer), meaning that when it is caught, it has a hard shell full of firm, tender, delicious white flesh. Weighing more than a pound (500 g), it is a gourmet delight. Even better, we know they'll be around a long time, because they're protected, raised and stocked. The responsibility then falls to the consumer to cook them well and prepare them so they're absolutely perfect!
Since 2012, every lobster harvested around the Gaspé Peninsula bears a blue rubber band and tag on one of its claws. The tag will allow consumers to see exactly where the crustacean came from, ensuring them that they’re buying a superior quality product from the Gaspé Peninsula, harvested in a manner kind to the environment.
By visiting the website and entering the alphanumerical code stamped on the blue tag attached to their lobster, consumers can watch a video clip about the harvester who caught their lobster, learn more about his fishing area, see the name of the lobster boat’s skipper and the method used to catch the lobster. It’s a unique way to bring consumers and their seafood harvesters closer together!
At the market
Ah, the nuances of language... Some grocers will swear that the lobsters in their tank come from Gaspésie, and technically they're right. The industrial companies that sell them are set up in Gaspésie, but they buy their lobsters in the Maritimes and mix all the lobsters together. So though they may COME from Gaspésie, they're not CAUGHT in Gaspésie. There's a big difference.
So to find the real thing, be sure that the lobster bears a tracing tag. It guarantees that it was fished solely in Gaspésie.
Fill a pot about quarter full with fresh water* and bring to a boil.
Add sea salt; about ½ cup salt for each 3.8 l (one gallon) of fresh water.
Cut the elastics from the lobster with a pair of scissors or a kitchen knife.
Drop the lobster into the boiling water and cover. Bring to a boil.
Simmer for 15 (male) to 18 minutes (female) per pound. Note: Cooking times are different for male and female lobster. To check whether the lobster’s ready, just pull on an antenna. If it comes out easily, the lobster’s done to perfection!
When the lobster’s cooked, taken it out of the pan and put it in a bowl of salted ice water (30g / 1 oz salt for each one l (one gallon) of fresh water) for 5 minutes.
Serve and enjoy.
* Some people prefer to use seawater to cook their lobster. In this case, follow the same cooking method but don’t add any sea salt.
Reserve your lobster. Everybody has a crush on this crustacean!
A sustainable fishery
The Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie works actively to make sure the lobster fishery develops in a sustainable manner. The Gaspé Peninsula’s lobster harvesters have for many years adopted various management and control measures to foster the protection of their resource while reducing the fishing effort; notably it has:
- Increased the minimum catch size (from 76 mm in 1996 to 82,5 mm in 2018);
- Established a maximum size (150 mm), thus keeping catch size within a strictly limited range;
- Reduced the number of traps (250 to 235) and commercial lobster harvesting licence holders (by 30%) by introducing a licence buy-out program for Regroupement members in 2008, the ultimate goal being to reduce overfishing; and
- Introduced a trap model (2011) that prevents any increase in fishing capacity.
Today, the Regroupement acts proactively; its actions seek to enhance lobster reproduction, protect biodiversity and improve habitats to ensure the sustainability of this fishery. To this end,
- It requires members to have escape hatches on their traps so small lobster can escape before the traps are hauled every day.
Last year marked the arrival in the traps of the first lobsters raised in the hatcheries of Gaspésie and released into the sea in 2010. We learned that it's Jean Côté, a biologist and the scientific director of the Professional Fishers Group of Southern Gaspésie who is the proud "father" of the 440,000 lobsters released into the water over the last seven years, thus ensuring their continuance. It's one of the steps for lobster protection put forward a few years to ago to reassure consumers that they would still have exceptional Gaspé lobster to enjoy every spring for years to come.
The charming Jean explained that the little lobsters can easily fit on your fingertip at the time they're stocked. In the photo, you can see tiny lobsters in the cells of a hatchery tray from the Aquahive nursery system. The one in the centre of the image has just moulted, as you can see its old bluish shell, called exuviae.
So there! Keep on enjoying lobster - Jean is keeping an eye on the generations to come.
(1) The minimum catch size has been increased from 82 mm to 82.55 mm and the maximum size decreased to 150 mm (the size of the lobster is that of the cephalothorax, from the hollow of the eye to the end of the thoracic carapace and not the tip of the tail at the end of the nose). It may seem like very small differences, but it will allow to relocate about 225,000 lobsters that would otherwise have been caught.
Photos: Professional Fishers Group of Southern Gaspésie
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