Quebec – The Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, and the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec, André Lamontagne, are proud to announce joint financial assistance to two groups in the crab fishing industry. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food made the announcement in Sept-Îles, during his tour of the North Shore region.
Minister Lamontagne announced that the UMEK Group will receive financial support of up to $499,580 from the Quebec Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Ministry (MAPAQ) and $147,284 in financial assistance from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The financial support will be significant for the company since these investments will increase its productivity and profitability and will be a further step towards the complete modernization of the production line undertaken by the UMEK Group in recent years.
This funding will support a project to automate its Snow crab packing line, which will allow it to pack continuously, without slowing down the pace of the processing line. The project also aims to automate the washing process of the cooking tanks during Snow crab processing to reduce process water use by 86 per cent. This project is made possible through the DFO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Clean Technology Adoption Program (FACTAP) and a MAPAQ Financial Support Program for the Development of the Commercial Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector.
The Association québécoise de l’industrie de la pêche (AQIP) will receive financial support totalling $976,500 as part of the Quebec Fisheries Fund (QFF). The QFF is a contribution program jointly funded by DFO and MAPAQ to support the Quebec fish and seafood sector. DFO contributes 70 per cent of this amount, or $683,550, and MAPAQ contributes 30 per cent, or $292,950. This assistance will be used to develop a prototype snow crab section classification system. The new equipment will use state-of-the-art vision and X-ray systems.
The AQIP project will be tested at the UMEK plant and has a number of objectives, including: design of modern equipment that integrates imaging and weight-based decision making; decrease labour requirements; increase productivity of operations on the sorting line; standardization of sorting by applying objective criteria; standardization of the finished product; elimination of human handling; and, redistribution of labour to tasks where it is essential. The results of the testing will be made available to other marine product processing plants.
This announcement reflects the shared priority of the federal and Quebec governments to participate in the vitalization of the North Shore community, and increase the supply of Quebec fish and seafood products. In addition, the financial support announced will help guarantee a safer and consistent quality product for consumers and reflects the desire of Snow crab processors to enhance the value of this profession and attract labour by improving employee conditions.