Inuit corporation doubles down on fisheries
Qikiqtani Inuit Association's business arm now fully owns the FV Saputi
The Qikiqtaaluk Fisheries Corp. and its factory freezer trawler, FV Saputi, are now 100-per-cent Inuit-owned, following a buyout by the Nunavut company of its minority shareholder and long-time business partner, Nataaqnaq Fisheries Inc.
The deal was about five years in the making, said Harry Flaherty, the president and CEO of Qikiqtaaluk Corp., who made the announcement at the Nunavut Trade Show on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
“This deal didn’t happen overnight. It took years to negotiate,” he said.
Qikiqtaaluk Fisheries Corp. is a subsidiary of the Qikiqtaaluk Corp.—the business arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association.
Previously, the QC was a 51-per-cent shareholder of the fisheries business and its 75-metre trawler, which harvests shrimp and turbot in Nunavut’s allocated fishing zones.
Being the sole owner of the business will increase the QC’s revenues by “millions of dollars,” Flaherty said.
“Every time the revenue came, we had to split it. That 49 per cent, which is also in the millions, will now be going directly to QC,” he said. “The revenue, money that’s coming out of this is going to stay in Nunavut.”
Full ownership will also strengthen the QC’s ability to lobby the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for increased fishing quotas in Nunavut waters. Right now, the QFC has to buy quota from other groups to fish year-round.
“We have the capacity, but we don’t have the quota,” Flaherty said. “Our next focus is to see how can we increase our quota.”
In past, Nunavut’s Baffin Fisheries Corp. has challenged QFC’s capacity, saying that quota increases would lead QFC to outsource quota to the south.
Hiring and training
The buy-out will also help the QC manage hiring and training practices for jobs aboard the Saputi. Until now, a focus on hiring and training for Inuit was lacking, Flaherty said.
“As wholly-owned, QC will have the capacity to take the lead.”
The product—shrimp and turbot—can also now be marketed as being from Nunavut.
“In Nunavut the fishing industry is so new and very fragile. It’s important for a corporation like ourselves, which are owned by the people, to participate,” he said.
Fish caught in Nunavut waters will still be offloaded to ports in Newfoundland and Greenland, as there is no port in Nunavut to unload a catch and refuel a vessel.
The product, which is partially processed on board the trawler, is also difficult and expensive to ship out by air.
Iqaluit’s new deep-water port won’t be set up for offloading fish, Flaherty said.