Travel responsibly and sustainably

Magdalen Islands Lobster

Each year, fishermen go set their traps offshore in the early days of May. The nine-week lobster fishing season is regulated and controlled. Interpretive activities are available, and it is possible to take part in the celebrations surrounding trap setting and the launch of the fishing season.

Why is the Islands' lobster the best?

Every Madelinot (and many visitors!) will agree. The lobster of the Îles de la Madeleine is the best—and this is no joke! According to gourmet experts, it stands out for its high quality. Its enhanced flavour, the quality of its flesh and the optimization of its nutritional values are the result of highly specific factors. For instance, the lobster grows in a natural habitat made of rocky bottoms surrounding the archipelago, which gives him a solid and mineral-rich shell—two signs of a very healthy crustacean. Also, lobster fishing is only permitted in the spring (only one fishing season per year) and occurs in very cold waters right before the molting season, which guarantees a full, highly valued and distinctive tasting flesh.

Thanks to the voluntary measures implemented to preserve the resource, this fishery obtained the "sustainable fishery" certification of the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council, a global organization. Besides, the Islands' lobster became the first coastal lobster fishery to be eco-certified in Canada.

How to eat the Islands' lobster?

Our fish markets offer various ways to enjoy the Islands' lobster: live in the shell, freshly cooked in the shell, cooked in the shell and frozen, meat, tail and tomalley.

As for cooking the lobster, Madelinots prefer to steam it; just pour a little bit of salt water (seawater works best!) in a big pot and pile up lobsters. Don't forget to take the elastic bands off the claws! This cooking method allows for a highly savoury flesh with an unmatched tenderness.

On the Islands, we serve the lobster directly in its shell. We like to keep it simple, as we love it just as it is!

The launch of the season — more than an event!

When fishermen start setting the lobster traps, it marks the beginning of the main economic activity of the Îles de la Madeleine. 

But it also represents the official start of the tourism season. The excitement brought by the planning activities surrounding the famous morning when the boats leave the harbours of the Islands for the first time also means pride and goodwill.

Madelinots and visitors come together to wish the fishermen a great season and remind them to be careful at sea.

For more information regarding the festivities surrounding the launching of lobster traps, please refer to local media.

Children on the lobter crates
Preparation of the traps for the upcoming season
Lobster boat and traps
Fishing boats in L'Étang-du-Nord
Lobster fisherman
Roger Langevin's statue
Lobster feast

A controlled and eco-certified fishery

The Islands' lobster is known for the finesse of its flesh and its famous taste. On the Islands, this fishery is closely monitored and received an eco-certification in 2013.

Many environmental factors are considered when it comes to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification. This eco-certification involves a voluntary assessment process demonstrating that the fishermen of the Islands respect the criteria and principles associated with a sustainable fishery: the fishing activities must ensure the sustainability of the resource, minimize environmental impacts, guarantee appropriate management, and comply with current regulations.

A few years back, resource conservation measures were implemented in partnership with the lobster fishermen of the Îles de la Madeleine. A total of 325 fishing licences is issued for the Îles de la Madeleine, and each boat is allowed the same number of traps. Back in 2005, a total of 300 traps per fisherman was allowed. However, between then and 2014, three traps per fisherman were removed each year to preserve the resource, for a current total of 273 traps. Lobsters smaller than the legal size as well as female bearing lobsters must be released at sea.

Total catches amount to more than 3 million kilograms of lobster per year. Fishermen go at sea early in the morning and are allowed to lift their traps starting at 5 a.m. They take the lobsters out, and put the traps back in the water after putting bait inside. They bring everything back to their home port in the afternoon before getting ready for the next day.

Once the season is over, fresh lobster remains available for a little while, as it is preserved in live wells. The majority of lobsters caught on the Îles de la Madeleine is sold in foreign markets.

Next time you come for a visit, wake up early and witness the departure of the boats! Many harbours allow you to take part in this unique experience during all nine weeks of the season.

Warning !

Visitors are prohibited from taking part in lobster fishing activities in any way. Failure to comply calls for severe penalties.

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Les Îles de la Madeleine
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