'The challenge is how to make ends meet.'

BFC chiefs divvy up former CEO powers


The remaining bosses of the Baffin Fisheries Coalition have divvied up the powers of their former CEO and president, Ben Kovic, amongst themselves, following Kovic's resignation several weeks ago.

Jerry Ward, the BFC's chief operating officer, who is based in St. John's, Newfoundland, is now interim CEO. Jacopie Maniapik, the BFC's chair, is interim president.

Johnny Mike, chairman of Niqitaq Fisheries Ltd., is interim president of NFL. Niqitaq Fisheries is wholly-owned by the BFC, and is part of a chain of companies that gives the BFC joint ownership of two fishing vessels used to catch turbot and shrimp offshore.

The consolidation of power within the BFC, announced Dec. 6, follows the resignation of Kovik several weeks ago.

The decision was made to ensure that "things will run smoothly, as it was when Ben was around," said Johnny Mike, who is also a BFC board member.

The board plans to meet in January or February to review management duties, Mike said. It will also discuss the "serious matters" of how to cut costs, he said.

Rising fuel prices and a high Canadian dollar mean it costs more for the BFC to fish. "The challenge is how to make ends meet," Mike said.

Yet rising costs have not affected dividends paid to the BFC's members, Mike said. In 2007, he said BFC paid $600,000 in dividends to its members, the same rate as in 2006.

He wouldn't elaborate on how BFC plans to cut costs, other than "we're not considering layoffs."

Ten hunter and trapper organizations from around the Baffin collectively own the BFC, which was formed in 2001 to permit these HTOs to exploit their piece of the offshore turbot catch.

The BFC transfers much of these turbot quotas to other companies in exchange for shrimp. This shrimp is caught and packaged on their factory trawlers before it is landed in Greenland and sold largely to markets in Europe and Asia.

The BFC has majority ownerships of its two fishing vessels, but day-to-day management of these vessels is handled by its partner, Nataaqnaq Fisheries Ltd., which is believed to be owned by Icelandic interests.

The BFC is also supposed to support inshore fishing near communities, but Mike said this has been hampered by the lack of infrastructure, such as docks, ports, and industrial-grade freezers.

After a dispute with BFO, Qikiqtarjuaq's Nattivak broke away from the coalition in 2004 to start their own inshore fishery.

The BFC also works with the territorial and federal governments, and Nunavut Tunngavik. Inc., to train Inuit to work as mariners.

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