Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut March 15, 2018 - 3:30 pm

Thieves steal thousands of dollars from Pangnirtung fish plant

Theft marks 30th anniversary of plant, which is now locally owned

BETH BROWN
The Pangnirtung fish plant as it looked in 2012. Earlier this week, thieves broke in and stole thousands of dollars of cash from the business, which creates up to about 40 local jobs each year. (FILE PHOTO)
The Pangnirtung fish plant as it looked in 2012. Earlier this week, thieves broke in and stole thousands of dollars of cash from the business, which creates up to about 40 local jobs each year. (FILE PHOTO)

Thieves made off with a large amount of cash from the Pangnirtung Fisheries Ltd. processing plant during a break-in on Monday night or early Tuesday morning, say Nunavut’s RCMP.

“On March 13 Pangnirtung RCMP were advised of a break, enter and theft to the Cumberland Sound Fish Plant [sic] sometime during the previous night,” RCMP Cpl. Henry Coman said in a release on Thursday, March 15.

“The perpetrator(s) forced their way into the building and stole a very large amount of cash, in excess of $5,000.”

In an interview, Coman would only say that “a lot of money” was stolen. He said RCMP won’t disclose the exact amount, so as not to create an incentive for future thefts.

When charges are laid for the theft of cash, that charge is set at either below or above the $5,000 mark.

The RCMP have not identified the thieves, so no charges are laid yet.

Police are still investigating and ask the public to give them any information they have about the crime.

“This is a crime that affects the livelihood of many people who rely on employment at the fish plant for their income,” Coman said.

The plant created about 40 jobs in 2016-17, according to the annual report of the Nunavut Development Corp., and according to a newspaper advertisement published this week, “employs between 45 and 52 people on a yearly basis.”

The fish plant in Pangnirtung was a subsidiary of the GN-owned development corporation for many years, which ran the plant under the name Pangnirtung Fisheries Ltd., together with a minority partner, locally owned Cumberland Sound Fisheries Ltd.

But in 2016, the NDC sold its interest in the plant to Cumberland Sound Fisheries and Niqitaq Fisheries Ltd., the NDC annual report said.

Niqitaq is a subsidiary of Baffin Fisheries, a partnership comprising five hunter and trapper organizations.

Pangnirtung MLA Margaret Nakashuk highlighted the 30th anniversary of the Pangnirtung fish plant in a member’s statement on Tuesday, March 13. Her statement did not reflect any knowledge of the theft.

“The fish plant workers dress and package the harvested turbot, which are exported to overseas markets,” she said, adding that the plant employs about 30 people.

“[The] fishery supports the Pangnirtung fish plant, which in turn provides invaluable income to our community, and many people are aware of this fact,” Nakashuk said. 

That’s why she was glad to announce that local people are taking over administration and management control of the Pangnirtung inshore turbot fishery from the federal government.

“It is now possible for local people to administer their inshore fishery,” she said. There are 64 licenced fishers in the community plus their helpers, Nakashuk said, adding that the fishery has seen a successful winter.

Fish aside, it’s been a week for crime in the Baffin community of about 1,500.

Also on March 13, the RCMP seized illegal alcohol and marijuana at the Pangnirtung airport.

On March 12, a school bus was damaged when a man set fire to the vehicle. The man, who also tried to set fire to the community elementary school and a trash bin at the high school, is now charged with three counts of arson.

Members of the public can submit anonymous news tips to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), submitting a tip online at http://www.nwtnutips.com or by texting ‘NWTNUTIPS’ plus your message to 274637(CRIMES). RCMP reminded residents they can also bring any information about crimes to their local detachment.

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