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Le Courant

Courant 2021 | 23

Les Bobines fish farm

Les Bobines Fish Farm

A brunch was held in late spring of 2018 by the Coaticook Historical Society. The guest speaker was Normand Roy, co-owner and founder of the business known as Ferme pisicole des Bobines, which consists of rearing ponds for fish. Mr Roy spoke to us about his dream of practicing aquaculture at home with respect to the environment. He therefore began to start up this work in his home parish of St. Malo in 1975. Unfortunately, the quantity of water needed for production was not sufficient and the owners knew fairly quickly that another place must be found. They turned their search to the area around Ste. Edwidge de Clifton and in 1980 purchased property near the edge of a stream.
                                      Famille Roy vers 1980

                                         The Roy family atg the start of the entreprise

Les Bobines (The Bobbines) was the name chosen for the enterprise and one of our first questions was to know why that name had been chosen as the name of the business. We wanted to know the origin of the name. We briefly touched on this subject a bit earlier in mentionning that the business was close to a stream. Actually, this stream which supplied the water to the fish farm was called ''RUSSEAU DES BOBINES'' (The Bobbin Brook). This stream was known as the Bobbin Brook since the 1900's when a sawmill near the stream was producing bobines . The paddle wheels in the factory were activated by the water from the stream. This factory closed their doors around 1930. So, from this time, the brook was known as the Bobbin Brook in remembrance of the mill.

This background gives us a little better understanding of the circumstances of the story. Therefore, in 1975, Normand Roy and his wife Doris Brodeur, began the first of the trout rearing ponds. Here we have two persons looking to the future of a business, who are not afraid of the obstacles they are about to encounter along the way, and are determined to build up this business, step by step.

In 1980, after five years in the business, Mr. Roy and Mrs. Brodeur began the farming of trout on a full time basis. They were, at this time, living in St. Edwidge de Clifton, in the Eastern Townships, along with their four children. We can easily understand that bringing up four children is also a full time occupation and that their days were very full. The trout business grew rapidly throughout 1980 and the good reputation under the name of ''Les Bobines'' began to be better known. The growth of this new business was now rooted to this area. Mr Roy told us that they began processing fish on a small scale but quickly came to the conclusion that more space was needed. Here, the maximum that could be produced was 18 tons of fish annually. Today, over 210 tons of fish are produced on a yearly basis.

This was why in 1989, the demand for ''Bobines (trout)'' was still increasing in growth that the owners started looking for another site, a site where the groundwater would be exceptional in quality and quantity. The concern for quality was utmost in the minds of the owners. They always have this thought in mind. This is how, after several searches, they finally were able to establish the business in the village of East Hereford. Hydrogeological studies were made to know the capacity of the water-table in order to acommodate such a project of this magnitude to be carried out. ''We only use the underground water and to date all the results we have obtained have been good'', according to the co-owners.

In the year 2000, the area of the processing plant was tripled in size in order to increase production. The layout is very organized and motivational. In 2003, the plant contributed to the development of STRADDAQ (the strategy for the sustainable development of freshwater aquaculture in Quebec). This strategy is an agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks as well as the AHQ (the Association of Aquaculture of Quebec). The objective being to reduce phosphorus discharges from Quebec aquaculture production by 40% over ten years. In 2004, the business, concerned with their role in this situation, takes it upon themselves a very ambitious project which consisted of bringing all the production to an interior facility and adopting an innovating and unique breeding system. This system is recognized today as a benchmark in sustainable aquaculture.

In 2005, an important person was added to the business. Their son Clement joined the enterprise. Clement had completed his college studies in administration and his university studies in law. Clement brought with him the positve asset in knowledge and skills.

                                          Clément Roy

                                        Mr Clement Roy joins the company after his etudes
In 2011, concerned as they always had been in a clean water system, they added an efficient wastewater treatment system. This procedure allowed the enterprise to meet and even surpass the environmental standards of Quebec. The progress and expansion did not just stop here because the construction of new recirculated underground water for ponds was planned in 2012. This addition would also lead to the improvement of trout farming and for them to remain in the field of Quebec aquaculture. They had invested in quality and performance and now the enterprise would move heavily to invest in greater technology. The time between 2013 to 2016 would see parts of all the installations become automated. An automatic oxygen stystem, a new filtration system and the transfer and counting of the fish were put into practice.

                                     Les installations Bobines

                            Modern facilities at the Bobines Fish Farm installated from 2013

It has been obvious that throughout the years, this local company has maintained its growth and kept its high standards. In 2017, the packaging of the products came under strict review. (Photo Design) Each product wrapping was scrutinized and and an updated look put in place. Of course, with all this new implementation being put into practice along with the growing need for the product, it became necessary to enlarge the offices and establish a new store for sale of the products. A grand opening of the changes and rebuilding was in order. The opening took place in 2018.

The year 2019 would be a good year where we wold go through a major expansion which would see current production doubled. (Installation Photo) As part of the process of production, it was necessary to provide a choice of high quality food, control fish fry, set up a means of control for diseases and parasites, to control pollution and, as well, general management.

                                 Ferme des Bobines 2012

                                         The Bobines Fish Farm in 2012

All the requirements that we adhere to are found in the products that we offer for sale. They are good quality products. A processing plant such as ours can therefore guarantee the excellence and diversity of products. It is thanks to a qualified and dynamic staff and thanks to the certification by the agency known as HACCP (the Canadian Food Inspection Agency), which is an internationally recognized agency. The fish farm known as ''Ferme pisicole des Bobines'', can therefore count on a healthy, easily managed and quality in its products. All farm products are certified Ocean Wise, Aliments Quebec, and flavor creators to promote the benefit of buying locally. In addition, the company's processing plant is certified HACCP by the Canadian Inspection Food Agency which guarantees and recognizes the quality of these products.

                                    Produit des Bobines

                    Excellence and product diversitythanks to a quality staff and company

The fish farm, ''La Ferme pisicole des Bobines'' operates the most important rainbow trout rearing site in Quebec. It is recognized as the only Quebec enterprise to rear rainbow trout on a fish farm. This ensures maximum freshness all through production. This company is also one of the most important fish farm sites for the enclosed fish ponds for salmon type fish in Canada. The trout are certified OCEAN WISE. Ocean Wise is a conservation program created to inform consumers and businesses related to fisheries and aquaculture practices in order to allow them to make eco-responsible choices.

Normand, Doris and Clement, their son, is today a major shareholder, operating a large scale company with vigor. Normand was in the position of President of the Quebec Aquaculuralist Association for several years. He is president of the Quebec freshwater Aquaculture Table of Quebec. Doris has training in cooking and participates in the development of new dishes for La Ferme Bobines. Clement, as mentionned, completed his collegial studies in administration and completed his studies in law at the university level. Through hard work he has achieved his goals. He is a man who has worked like 3 of his kind and with an accumulation of 100 years of experience.

Dreams of new products are still envisioned and new products are under study to coming soon to a market.

La Ferme pisicole de Bobines (The Bobbin Fish Farm) is also in agreement with the biofood policy of Quebec. Aquaculture is recognized as a production project of the future. The government would like to double the trout production by 2025 and, of course, we want our share of the pie. With all the technological advances which have been made to date, it would be possible to do this , while respecting environmenta issues, concludes Mr. Roy.

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