There will likely be no vibrant ice-fishing huts dotting the frozen water close to Saguenay, Que., this yr after delicate winter climate compelled authorities to cancel the favored custom for the primary time.

The municipality about 200 kilometres north of Quebec Metropolis introduced final week that the ice wasn’t thick sufficient to open the fishing villages at Anse-à-Benjamin and Grande-Baie, which usually function a whole bunch of huts and cabins which might be well-liked with vacationers and locals alike.

The information was an enormous shock and disappointment to individuals within the space, in accordance with Rémi Aubin, who’s president of a neighborhood fishing group.

“Ice fishing for the individuals of the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean area is an exercise that’s not solely leisure and financial, but additionally a part of the tradition of the individuals right here,” he mentioned.

Aubin, who has been fishing via the ice since he was seven years previous, mentioned the Saguenay fiord’s spectacular panorama, the quaint fishing villages that may attain over 1,000 huts and the presence of saltwater fish corresponding to redfish and halibut mix to create a singular expertise that pulls individuals from around the globe and brings hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to the area.

However past the financial spinoffs for accommodations, eating places and tourism corporations, fishing is a beloved exercise handed down from technology to technology and an enormous a part of individuals’s lives, he mentioned.

“It’s a bit like their winter medication that makes them really feel good,” Aubin mentioned. “For some individuals, it’s about travelling south within the winter. For them, it’s their fishing hut. So we’ve taken away their happiness, and it even has an impression on individuals’s psychological stability.”

The talk round whether or not to cancel the season was so heated that Contact Nature, the group that manages the villages, posted a message on its Fb web page in early February pleading for respect amid what it known as “defamatory allegations and private assaults.” On Monday, calls to the group went to voice mail, with a message saying it was receiving too many calls to reply them promptly.

Dominic Arseneau, a spokesman for town of Saguenay, mentioned the choice to cancel wasn’t made flippantly. He mentioned the ice at one website was about 27 centimetres thick — in need of the 30 cm minimal for giant automobiles and huts — whereas on the different website it was solely about 20 cm.

“It’s unhappy. No one was comfortable to make that call and it was made with a heavy coronary heart, however on the similar time we are able to’t play with individuals’s security,” he mentioned.

He famous {that a} survey carried out by the group that manages the ice villages discovered that almost all of respondents — 58 per cent — most well-liked to not open for a season lasting 4 weeks or much less.  Individuals who paid to order a spot on the ice will likely be refunded, he added.

Francis Girard, vice-president of the game fishing affiliation Affiliation des Pêcheurs Sportifs du Québec, mentioned the information is a “reflection of the local weather modifications we’ve seen in recent times.”

He mentioned ice fishing seasons within the province are beginning later and ending earlier, particularly within the southern components of the province. What occurred in Saguenay, he mentioned, is “an indication that what we’ve seen within the south of the province is slowly extending northward and in the direction of the east.”

He mentioned ice ranges are thinner than they was once basically, and that anecdotally he’s listening to about extra individuals needing to be rescued.

Nevertheless, he mentioned individuals can usually begin ice fishing safely on foot beginning at about 10 cm of ice — which continues to be current in lots of components of the province. Ice villages, then again, require a lot thicker ice due to the snowplows and vans wanted to put in the huts.

Aubin mentioned individuals in Saguenay are improvising, by heading out on the ice with lighter tents and snowmobiles or all-terrain automobiles as an alternative of huts and vans. He mentioned individuals who accomplish that proceed at their very own danger, as is the case in most areas of the province.

— By Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed Feb. 13, 2024.


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