Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut February 05, 2018 - 11:00 am

Northern fishing groups want help getting fair share of quotas

“Access ought to be to the exclusive benefit of northern and Indigenous groups"

SARAH ROGERS
The Arctic Fishery Alliance’s Kiviuq I vessel pictured here in Nunavut. A coalition of Nunavut fisheries is calling for the creation of a federal fund to help the territory “catch-up” to its fair share of the industry’s allocations. (FILE PHOTO)
The Arctic Fishery Alliance’s Kiviuq I vessel pictured here in Nunavut. A coalition of Nunavut fisheries is calling for the creation of a federal fund to help the territory “catch-up” to its fair share of the industry’s allocations. (FILE PHOTO)

OTTAWA—A coalition of Nunavut fishing companies has called for the creation of a federal fund to help the territory “catch up” and acquire a fair share of offshore shrimp and turbot quotas.

Brian Burke, the president of the Nunavut Offshore Allocation Holders Association, said the territory’s fishing industry needs access to a more equitable share of its offshore resources.

Even with a slight increase made to Nunavut’s turbot allocations last year, the territory holds 73 per cent of all turbot quotas and 38 per cent of shrimp—about 50 per cent of the overall allocation.

“We don’t consider that to be a fair and equitable allocation, compared to what you see in the South,” Burke told a panel discussion on Indigenous fisheries Feb. 1, held at the Northern Lights business and cultural showcase in Ottawa.

“We’ve been excluded for many years from grants that have been available to Indigenous groups in the south.”

Funding destined for Nunavut’s fishery would allow the industry to “catch up” to those who have had access for many years, Burke said.

It would also allow local fisheries to purchase northern shrimp and Greenland halibut quotas from southern enterprises, he said, and to trade with those businesses for southern access and to purchase other businesses and vessels.

The federal Northern Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative is set to launch soon, designed to help Indigenous groups develop commercial businesses and capacity.

The program will distribute $1.9 million this year and ramp up its annual budget to $7 million by 2019—money announced in last year’s federal budget.

In theory, the federal program could serve as the fund Nunavut fisheries are calling for, but Burke said it’s only part of the larger picture.

Having full access to adjacent fisheries would translate into $100 million more in revenue for license holders in Nunavut, he said.

In Nunavik, Makivik Corp. has been involved in the fishery since the late 1970s, most recently through joint ventures with Newfound Resources Ltd. and Unaaq Fisheries, which harvest shrimp in Hudson Strait and Davis Strait.

Makivik’s annual net revenues from the fisheries grew from $829,111 in 2011 to $7.6 million in 2016.

But with declining shrimp stocks in parts of the north, a potential reduction in quotas could threaten Nunavik’s fishery, said Makivik’s Peter Rose.

“The decline of the shrimp fishery would have an immediate impact on Nunavik,” Rose told the panel discussion.

Rose echoed Burke’s calls for changes to Ottawa’s policies, and said any discussion on allocations should consider land claims in the North and the region’s historical dependence on the fishery.

The Northern Coalition Corp.’s Alastair O’Reilly added to that by noting that, in the case of Inuit-owned fisheries, the profits are reinvested back into communities.

“That warrants attention when we think of who should have access to allocations in the North,” he said Feb. 1.

“Access ought to be to the exclusive benefit of northern and Indigenous groups.”

Stakeholders can weigh in on the federal government’s Northern Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative until spring 2018 at http://www.indigenousfisheries.ca.

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