The Groupe Desgagnés vessel transporting passengers, vehicles and cargo by water to Anticosti Island and the Lower North Shore is celebrating its 10th anniversary! To mark the occasion, the Bella Desgagnés is opening its hatches to the public. The supply ship will be moored at the Rimouski wharf this Sunday, April 2, and free tours will be organized between 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
During its trips, the Bella Desgagnés also welcomes tourists who stay aboard to visit the 12 port villages served by the vessel. A delegation from Tourisme Côte-Nord will be present at the Rimouski wharf to talk to visitors from that region. The Institut Maritime du Québec will also have a booth to raise awareness about maritime careers and training.
The Bella Desgagnés is a forerunner in waste management. The vessel is the focus of an innovative zero waste project and has held the "ICI ON RECYCLE" (Here, We Recycle) certification since 2016.
Initially classified at the Silver Level 3 within the Quebec-based program, the vessel increased its recycling by 2019 to obtain the higher Performance level with an 85% recycling rate.
Groupe Desgagnés hopes to achieve the program’s Elite level when the ship’s waste characterization is next done. COVID restrictions temporarily slowed down the zero-waste project, but greater efforts have resumed to separate items at source and to increase composting. The next audit is scheduled for this fall. (Read about the zero-waste project’s launch in Green Marine Magazine’s June 2020 issue.)
The Bella Desgagnés is also a big part of the Groupe Desgagnés stewardship in marine mammal protection and observation on its route from the Lower St. Lawrence to Blanc-Sablon, Quebec.
In 2015, Groupe Desgagnés officially joined a cetacean data collection program led by the Réseau d'observation de mammifères marins (ROMM), a marine mammal observation network that covers a significant portion of the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Gulf of St Lawrence. Since then, the crew members from 18 of the fleet’s 20 vessels have been collecting observation data on the whales they encounter in the salt waters of Quebec, as well as in Eastern and Northern Canada.
The observations began with Jean-Charles Leblanc, Second Mate aboard the M/V Bella Desgagnés, who began collaboration with ROMM in 1998 by collecting data during his trips to the Lower North Shore.