Smoked herring connects Cap-Pelé to Haiti

For the past century, one of the most enduring New Brunswick trade partnerships has been with one of the world's very poorest countries, Haiti. One fishing village, Cap-Pelé, has sold millions of crates of smoked herring to the impoverished Caribbean nation.

A million cases of the smoked fish travel each year to the impoverished country

Smoked herring from Cap-Pelé can be found all over Haiti, including this northern market. (Radio-Canada)

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.

Almost all of the product from Cap-Pelé's smokehouses goes to Haiti. (Radio-Canada)

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.

Smoked herring is on the menu at this Haitian preschool. (Radio-Canada)

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.
Nadyne Cadère feeds her large family smoked herring on special occasions. (Radio-Canada)

"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.


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