Le Téléjournal, January 19, 2007
15 years ago, a fire accident ravaged the Madelipêche seafood processing plant, a major employer in Cap-aux-Meules in the Magdalen Islands. Back in the archives on a few moments in the history of this company which had to reinvent itself several times since its founding in 1978.
January 19, 2007, Radio-Canada journalist Line Danis comments on the fire in Cap-aux-Meules. Images of the blaze were filmed by TVI, the Magdalen Islands community television channel.
Two-thirds of the factory, which then employed 60 people, was destroyed. As the start of the seal hunt approaches, the population hopes that the transformation of the seal can be done anyway, thus preserving some jobs.
As a misfortune never comes alone, less than a month later, on February 16, 2007, Line Danis is back on the air to comment on another fire. This time, it is the Madelimer seafood processing plant that is engulfed in flames. Located in the municipality of Grande-Entrée, the company employs 400 Madelinots.
Our journalists have often taken an interest in Madelipêche, as the plant has suffered numerous shipwrecks and rescues during its existence.
In 1984, the company came close to disaster for the first time due to the bankruptcy of Pêcheurs unis du Québec. The company was saved in extremis by the Quebec government, which restructured it through a special law.
In this report broadcast on La Semaine verte on March 2 1986, journalist Marc Pichette looks back on the rescue of the Madelipêche factory by the Quebec government.
Report by Marc Pichette on the history of the Madelipêche factory in the Magdalen Islands and its reorganization by the Government of Quebec. Director: Jean-Guy Landry, Animation: Yvon Leblanc.
Developed during the crisis of the 1930s, the cooperative movement has long allowed the Madelinots to take their own destiny into their own hands.
Around 1972, the cooperative movement of island fishermen became part of United Fishermen of Quebec, but the bankruptcy of the United Fishermen of Quebec cooperative led to that of the Madelipêche company in the mid-1980s.
It was in 1982 that United Fishermen of Quebec began to experience serious financial difficulties. In 1984, the Commission of Inquiry into Madelipêche inc. and United Fishermen of Quebec (Marceau Commission) publishes its report.
Given the strategic importance of Madelipêche for the economy of the Magdalen Islands, the government of René Lévesque decides to save Madelipêche by buying the boats and restructuring the company.
The facilities are modernized. Madelipêche has a fleet of eight boats over 100 feet and affiliated companies including Crustacés des Îles
Lobster, scallop, crab, cod, plaice and redfish, the catches of Madelipêche represent approximately 30% of all catches in Quebec.
In 1986, Madelipêche was the largest fishing company in Quebec. Its redfish quota for this year alone is 45 million pounds.
Despite the company's success, it is estimated that the government invested around $48 million in its operation from 1978 to 1985. The coming to power of the Liberals in 1985 led to a questioning of the role of the ;State in Madelipêche society.
Report by Réal Barnabé on the sale of Madelipêche by the Quebec government and the possibility of its acquisition by a business group from the Magdalen Islands. The program is hosted by Michèle Viroly.
On November 26, 1986 on the program Le sens des affaires, journalist Réal Barnabé presents a report on the privatization of Madelipêche.
In the report, the employees of the company are worried about seeing the benefits of their collective agreement being reduced or losing their jobs altogether with the purchase of the company .
Despite deficits of four million per year which were absorbed by the government, Madelipêche still interested several companies and investors, such as a group of 11 Madelinots led by businessman Paul Delaney. They are the ones who will finally become the owners in 1987.
In the field of fishing, catches are the most difficult data to predict, more difficult than the market itself.
The plant had good years, but suffered greatly from the redfish moratorium in the 1990s
In 1983 in the Magdalen Islands, redfish accounted for more than half of fish landings. During this prosperous period, Madelipêche employed up to 500 people for fish processing. But throughout this period, when Ottawa multiplies fishing licenses for redfish fishing in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the resource begins the decline of its natural cycle.
In 1994, Fisheries and Oceans Canada cut quotas in half and completely closed the redfish fishery in 1995.
“Circumstances are there and you have to get through. To use maritime terms: anyone can be a captain in good weather. It's when the weather is bad that you need a real captain. »
— Paul Delaney, President Madelipêche 1995
The factory will be put on hold and will operate in slow motion for several years. Activities will focus on the seal prized for its fur and its oil.
Today, the shareholders of the Magdalen company hope for the revival of the redfish fishery expected for 2026
Fishing is the main economic engine of the Magdalen Islands with 169.2 million annual spinoffs. In 2021, lobster and snow crab accounted for 95% of landed value.
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