Baffin Fisheries buying $72M fishing vessel

80-metre trawler will be largest owned in Canada, says CEO

Baffin Fisheries CEO Chris Flanagan presents the company’s newest vessel at a news conference at the company’s office in Iqaluit Friday morning. Flanagan says the ship will be safer and more cost efficient than the 34-year-old vessel it’s replacing. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Baffin Fisheries says it’s buying what will be the largest Canadian-owned fishing vessel.

The new ship will be much safer and cost efficient than the vessel it replaces, says CEO Chris Flanagan.

The company held a news conference Friday morning to announce the newest addition to its fleet: a $72.5 million, 80-metre stern trawler that can carry a max of 1,320 tonnes of frozen turbot or 930 tonnes of cold-water shrimp.

The trawler will be designed by Norwegian company Skipsteknisk A/S and constructed in Turkey by Tersan Shipyard. Baffin Fisheries is expecting it to be delivered in February 2024.

“We’re very, very proud of this vessel,” Flanagan said. “It will add a lot of benefits both financially and in terms of employment for Nunavummiut and Inuit.”

Although the ship calls for a 34-person crew, the company believes it can operate with 30, which leaves extra spots for mentorship and training programs for engineering support, first and second mate, cook, factory and trawl boss positions.

Flanagan said the company employs around 50 to 60 Inuit on the company’s vessels throughout the year.

“But I will say, there’s lots of room for improvement,” he said. “We really are in need of more workers from Nunavut.”

Many Inuit still don’t consider the offshore fishing industry as an employment opportunity, he said.

“So it’s challenging to make people aware of the fishery, to get them into the training and then to work on vessels which are going to take them away from their community for months or many, many weeks at a time,” Flanagan said.

Adamee Itorcheak, Iqaluit’s representative on Baffin Fisheries’ board of directors, said he wants to see more Inuit employed by the company.

“When we start really benefiting is when we have the jobs,” he said.

Itorcheak, whose son works for the company, said he appreciates how much safer the new vessel will be.

Safety features on the new vessel include a more modern system for launching a fast rescue craft and winches that are electric, rather than hydraulic, removing the risk of oil spills on the deck, Flanagan said.

“The deck is the most dangerous place. So if you’ve got a risk of oils on the deck, it’s a riskier environment. Electric winches take that away,” Flanagan said.

Scotiabank is loaning Baffin Fisheries $60 million for the ship and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency is loaning $3 million.

The company also went to several Canadian and European banks to secure loans for the vessel, and, although fisheries and Nunavut businesses often have a hard time securing such funding, the company had multiple offers, Flanagan said.

The vessel, which has yet to be named, will replace a 34-year-old old vessel called the M.V. Inuksuk, which carries less than half of the new vessel’s capacity.

Between reducing maintenance costs and having less transits to the east coast, the new vessel will offer “an extreme savings in fuel and time,” Flanagan said.

In the future, Flanagan said the ship and other marine infrastructure, such as a forthcoming deepsea port in Qikiqtarjuaq, will create a wealth of new possibilities to the company.

Right now the company offloads its catch in Newfoundland, which can sometimes take six days. But the federal government’s announcement in August it would spend $40 million to build a deepsea port in Qikiqtarjuaq would provide another location to land the vessel, Flanagan said.

Also within the next decade, Flanagan said it might be possible to start catching yellowtail in the south and redfish, which currently has no proven commercial viability.

Itorcheak said he wants the company to be able to expand into new fishing spots.

“I’ve always maintained we should not be stuck to two species and we should not be stuck to one location. We need multiple sites,” he said.

The company’s catch limits and locations are regulated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It primarily deals with Arctic shrimp and turbot and fishes mainly off the northeast coast of Baffin Island.

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(17) Comments:

  1. Posted by fisher price on

    Another Inuit owned Company in Name only.

    All the administrative jobs are held by newfoundland employees in St. Johns.

    The CEO flew up for this announcement.

    disgrace of a company.

    • Posted by skipper on

      The head office should at the very least be in Nunavut.

    • Posted by Putting this out there on

      WHAT… tell me this is not true. You mean it was not the Pangnirtung, Amaruq (Iqaluit), Mittimatalik (Pond Inlet), Mayukalik (Kimmirut), and Namautalik (Clyde River) HTO’s that decided to get a bigger boat, find someone to build it, and someone to loan them money.

      But isn’t it really that way with a lot of companies. As long as since they are the owners they get the majority of the profit.

      • Posted by Sam on

        Mark this storey, another bailout coming in the next 2 years

      • Posted by Fishers on

        A great way to disperse all those profits is through an overpriced vessel and lots of consulting contracts.
        Remind me again what the communities have to show for all this fishy business at the end of the day.

        • Posted by Skipper on

          Jobs and opportunities for employment, just have to look and see how to get trained and work on the boats.

  2. Posted by pissed off on

    great that they get a brand new ship as long as they can pay for it on its own.
    I am sure that it will be more fuel efficient and safer than the old one. Safer is better in my book.

    However stop the wet dream of landing fish in Qikirtarjuaq please . I am sure they have a hard time filling up the few jobs they have available now in that community. Where will the tens of people needed to unload, store and process all that fish come from all at once?

    Give your head a shake pleaee. Economic development in the small communities is greatly needed but stop the grandiose schemes .


    • Posted by name withheld on

      If the fish were to be landed and processed in Qik, how would it then get to market?
      Is BIM planning to extend it’s rail line to Qik, so the processed fish and be sent out by rail?

  3. Posted by Best for nunnavut 100% helping on

    Who well understand business and keeping this business going well and supporting all Nunavut communities good for our future and will keep us moving for generations,
    Now the question is why is the other businesses not questioned well as conflicts are starting to show as QC get approval from NTI and QC has a chairman that has a seat in QIA and HTA board member in arctic Bay HTO and sits on QIA and not providing any information back to our communities as the person who post something fishy as he does not understand how the business works as some comments gave here,
    Supporting all Inuit best of luck and congratulations
    Eyes and ears

    • Posted by Fishermen on

      Just another way to kill the fishery quicker and leave a few people wealthy. Instead this fish should be caught by thousands of individual boats and fishers which in turn would spread the wealth and have our small fishing communities thrive once again

      • Posted by Bemused on

        You might want to take a look at Newfoundland and see why “thousands” of little boats are not viable to support “small fishing communities”. I know Nunavummiut sometimes don’t like the idea of looking to other places to see what works and what doesn’t, but well, having to learn the same lessons other places did decades ago is a bit foolish.

  4. Posted by Fishermen on

    Bigger and better isn’t always a good thing

  5. Posted by Think over your future for your kids and grandchildren on

    Wow read on the comments,
    Only 20 years ago BFC has done so much investment and owns 3 ships and replacing 2 for one with less area to destroy and the same amount of Fish they will haul out of the water,
    This post sure is a wet dream alright to qik,
    This will only be use to do crew change nothing else as the community is too small and has no freezer for one ship load no one to off load ships no fuel tanks no parts will be available everything as needed is over a $Billion dollar,
    Look at pang as well no plans goals and finish this to AFA what have they invested nothing to show as the clowns are the only ones benefited,
    And the jokers who gives them the fish don’t question or the partners of AFA,
    now the public or whom comments will think of how BFC helps so much.
    Isumayuguu takunnatuuq

  6. Posted by Illia Kurijijakin on

    Fisheries…what ever happen to as CEO that was in the news some years back? A big house in NFL with company funds

    • Posted by Nappie Solow on

      As a Nunavut beneficiary, I would like to know what happened to the C.E.O. of fisheries
      who built the big house in N.L. ?
      A proper honest answer ? (Yeah in my dreams )
      Sorry I forgot this is Nunavut.
      Big boat going cheap !

  7. Posted by Employ the Unemployable on

    I think the comments here about not having anybody in Qikiqtarjuaq to work for the fishery speaks volumes, considering the unemployment rate in Qik is over 25%.

  8. Posted by NTI bennie on

    Baffin fisheries building a bigger boat to create more jobs for Newfoundlanders and not for Nunavut. Look the Baffin Fisheries headquarters office is empty in Iqaluit even though the BF chairman is from Iqaluit.
    The owners of BF should be overhauled make a change to move all the senior executives jobs positions to Nunavut and make sure to hire all Nunavut Inuit executives.

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