Stories at Sea is a series of interviews highlighting artisanal fishermen, fisheries, and suppliers who are furthering the seafood industry within Canada. We are here to tell their stories and to pass on their wisdom to the greater community.
Fisher Bay Seafood is a second-generation family-owned supplier from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Founded in 1995, Fisher Bay produces the highest quality fresh and frozen seafood products caught off the West Coast of Vancouver Island and the North Coast, Port Hardy and Prince Rupert.
We sat down with their head of operations, Shane ‘Mousse’ Mousseau, to discuss how he got his start in the industry, what the future of seafood looks like, and how to build strong and lasting relationships with your customers.
Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Shane got his start in the seafood industry on the processing floor. As a first generation entrant to the seafood industry, Shane has now plied his trade for over 20 years. Fourteen of these years have been with his current employer, Fisher Bay. Shane now wears multiple hats within the organization, ranging from operations, sales, customer support, and production.
Hayley From Coastline: Why are you in the seafood industry?
Shane Mousseau: At first, I needed a job. What keeps me in the industry is that every day is different. It makes things exciting.
What’s been the most difficult thing to learn?
Filleting fish properly, I still can’t do it.
What would you tell other people getting into the industry?
If you’re getting into the sales side, my advice would be to be honest with your customer, plain and simple. Do this, and you’ll have a customer for life. For the fishing side of things, you should know it’s hard work. You’re going to work very hard. Fishing can be tough and scary at times, especially in bad weather. I’ve been out there. You’ve got to have a lot of courage.
What do you see as the future of seafood?
It’s probably one of the largest growing industries overall. It’s not just wild seafood either, aquaculture is just getting bigger and bigger as well. Consumers want to eat healthier foods, and seafood is way healthier than a lot of the food options out there today.
What can we do to ensure that seafood will still be accessible to future generations?
On the wild side, from our perspective in the ground fish industry, we do a really good job with our quota system. A lot of other countries, like the US, have modeled their system off ours. Each vessel has a quota for every area they want to fish. They have to either stay within their quota limits or decide to lease fish from other quota holders. It has done very well for our industry so far.
Is there anything you think consumers should be more aware of?
We should be thinking about sustainability and Ocean Wise product, making sure consumers know what sustainable options are available. The big issue is the discrepancy of classification between countries. There are two different sustainability tiers, Ocean Wise in Canada and The Seafood Watch in the US. The states will have a lot of seafood labeled green and good to eat, but the same species, caught the same way in Canada, will not carry the same classification and labeling. I’d like the industry to be more standardized between country to country.
“We are a small company, but we move a lot of product. In saying that, it’s because we are fair with our customers. We don’t steer them in any wrong direction. We tell them the facts, and give them the information that we have available from our skippers. That’s how we’ve built the relationships we have, that’s why Fisher Bay has been in existence since 1995”
Do you have any advice for the next generation of harvesters?
In our industry, for sales, my advice would be to be fair with people, to treat them with respect. If you plan on getting a lot of orders, it’s by building relationships. Most of my customers are from the 20 year relationships that I’ve built. They’ve been built through the trust and problem solving that has happened over any issues that have come up over the years.
We are a small company, we move a lot of product. In saying that, it’s because we are fair with our customers. We don’t steer them in any wrong direction. We tell them the facts, and give them the information that we have available from our skippers. That’s how we’ve built the relationships we have, that’s why Fisher Bay has been in existence since 1995.
When are you happiest?
On the golf course. I work, I golf, I go home. Or while watching the Habs, I have simple pleasures.
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