Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation goes green with its fishing industry

With the purchase of a cutting-edge hybrid boat, a First Nation in Quebec has taken an environmentally friendly first step into the world of commercial fishing.

Located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, in a region known as le Bas-Saint-Laurent, the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation draws a large part of its independent income from commercial fishing.

The First Nation has been harvesting a wide variety of species for over 20 years. In recent years, the community has noticed a rapid increase in the lobster population, which has been moving to new seabeds. In the spring of 2023, recognizing the abundance of this resource, the First Nation acquired a hybrid boat, powered by both electricity and gas, to take full advantage of its lobster fishing licences.

Boat named Ciktek
Photo: Courtesy of Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation

The name of the boat is Ciktek, meaning "the silent one." It’s made from aluminum, a lightweight material that reduces energy consumption. The boat’s electric motor produces fewer decibels than a dishwasher, helping to protect the hearing of its crew and the marine mammals that live in the river. The boat also comes equipped with solar panels to recharge the engine while docked.

Guy Pascal Weiner, Director of Commercial Fisheries for the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation, expressed great enthusiasm, stating, "This is the second boat of its kind in Canada. There’s definitely a sense of pride among the crew and the community. It’s a beautiful boat, offering its users a clean and ergonomic environment, along with the latest technology."

As an example, he mentioned Ciktek’s detection systems, which can send real-time information to the captain via text messages. This enables the captain to monitor the boat’s energy consumption and receive alerts about any breakages or unusual changes in the boat’s environment, such as approaching storms.

The acquisition of Ciktek is very important to the Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation, as it’s their first renewable energy project in the fisheries sector. It marks the beginning of a green shift, in line with their values of resource conservation and environmental respect.

"Beyond commercial fishing, Ciktek enables us to create partnerships with stakeholders from the scientific, academic, environmental and even film-making communities," explains Weiner. "In the context of fighting climate change, we’re able to invite partners on board so they can observe, study and witness the river’s state of health." For him, this outstretched hand to the scientific world gives Ciktek an even more significant purpose for the future of its community.

The Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk First Nation has benefited from the support of the Quebec Green Initiative in acquiring its new hybrid boat. The Quebec Green Initiative is a strategic partnership initiative designed to encourage renewable energy projects for Indigenous communities in Quebec.

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