A million cases of the smoked fish travel each year to the impoverished country
For the past century, one of New Brunswick’s most enduring trade partnerships has been with one of the world’s poorest countries.
The fishing village of Cap-Pelé has sold millions of crates of smoked herring to the impoverished Caribbean nation of Haiti.
A Radio-Canada crew recently followed the trail, from the smokehouses in Cap-Pelé to the kitchens of Port-au-Prince.
The sights, and especially the smells, of smoked herring are part of life in southeastern New Brunswick.
Almost all of the herring fished in the Northumberland Strait goes to Haiti, more than a million cases a year.
It’s trucked to Saint John, and then loaded on a ship for the Caribbean.
It’s easy to find the fish all over Haiti. It’s part of every person’s diet, sold in markets, and on the lunch menu at a preschool.
At Nadyne Cadère’s house, smoked herring is served on special occasions to her large family.
She cooks it with sauce, rice, plantain, cassava, or spaghetti, she told Radio-Canada’s Paul Émile d’Entremont.
The majority of Cap-Pele’s smoked herring arrives at Lucien Rousseau’s warehouse.
He is Haïti’s largest importer. He explained why smoked herring is so popular in the country.
“Haiti is a tropical country, and few people can afford a fridge,” Rousseau said.
“Smoked herring will keep for a long time, even in the hot sun, plus, it is relatively inexpensive and a good source of protein.”
Rousseau’s face lit up when asked about Cap-Pelé. “People know me by name, I am there so often!”
No wonder. The century-old trade partnership is the engine of the Cap-Pelé economy.