Zmâla : Kahem
Charles-Frédéric Ouellet / Kahem
Along the Saint Lawrence River, the oldest waterway of North America, fishing boats are becoming rare. For forty years, the fishermen have been trying to protect their activity, but today the industry is in jeopardy. Overexploitation of stocks and the rising costs of fishing are leading to the disappearance of one of the most ancient practices of this maritime heritage.
This heritage goes back to over 450 years ago and saw the arrival of the first Europeans along North America’s coastline. From spring to autumn, the mariners caught cod which, at the time, was plentiful in the Saint Lawrence estuary. It is partly due to this activity that the first colonies came to settle on these shores. Today, there are more than 1,500 Canadian rural collectives that earn their living mainly by fishing.
Often handed down from father to son, fishing is a profession that is predominantly masculine. Physically demanding, it exposes fishermen to difficult weather conditions, leaving on their faces, hands and bodies the traces of the elements.
The project Carnet de Bord (Log book) by Charles-Frédéric Ouellet begins in Nova Scotia, in 2007. He was working at the time on herring fishing and small-scale swordfish fishing, before returning to sea, three years later, to join the crews crab and turbot fishing on the Saint Lawrence coast. With this project, Charles-Frédéric Ouellet documents today’s society by studying one of the oldest professions in Quebec – one of the missions of the four photographers of the Kahem collective.
Catherine Lebel O. & Charles-Frédéric Ouellet