Canada

Gaspereau Day? Why not?

It's an ugly fish that doesn't even taste very good but the people of Fredericton have set aside a day to honour the humble and bony gaspereau. The fish's fans says it's about time.

It may prove that the city has a sense of humour. Why else would Fredericton have chosen to honour the ugly fish for an entire day?

"I think it's a hoot, I love it, and actually, I just looked out onto the river there and saw a gaspereau and he had the keys to the city in his mouth and I said, that Les Hull, he's quite a guy," says folk singer Mavis O'Donnell.

Mayor Les Hull is the the man behind the gaspereau's rise to fame.

"It has a lot of sentimental value for a lot of people in New Brunswick, and they are still used as a food source in a lot of areas. They were so plentiful at one time that they were used as fertilizer," he explains.

Gaspereau are known as a poor man's salmon, cheap and plentiful. New Brunswick rivers are filled with them in springtime, which is also spawning time. They're caught in small nets then turned into lobster bait or fish meal. Some people eat them, but only the very tolerant.

"They taste pretty good but there is a tremendous number of bones in them. They taste a lot like shad but really, really bony," is how fish biologist Charles Ayer describes the eating experience.

Mavis O'Donnell ate them as a child and says Gaspereau Day finally gives the fish the respect it deserves.

"They served a useful purpose for people who didn't have salmon or meat. They've been recognized today and rightfully so," she says.

But thankfully, she says, she doesn't have to eat them anymore.

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