BFC forges ahead with training program

Coalition “working through” its issues, CEO says


The CEO of the Baffin Fisheries Coalition, Jerry Ward, says he will proceed with a planned training program this week, as the company’s 11 members “work through” issues that have threatened to torpedo its long-term plan to build a Nunavut-controlled fishery.

This week, 12 Inuit from the Baffin region started a training course in Iqaluit aimed at preparing them for entry-level jobs on the fishing trawlers that the BFC will charter this year to catch its 4,000-metric-tonne turbot quota in northern Davis Strait.

Ward says this training program, and a similar one planned for later in the summer that will train 12 more people, represents the kind of benefit that can be gained if BFC members stick together and use their combined strength.

The BFC, with help from the Kakivak Association and the GN’s Department of the Environment, is paying for the courses.

Participants will take an “MED” or “marine emergency duty” course, and a pre-sea trawler course.

Ward says that under Transport Canada rules, crew members aren’t allowed to work on trawlers until after they take such courses.

“You have to know how to get in and out of the water, and what happens if the boat sinks, and all those types of things. They have to do this (MED) course to get on the boats,” Ward said.

The pre-sea trawler course teaches participants how to mend nets, do repairs, and other basic skills required for work on deep-sea factory-freezer trawlers.

Ward said, however, that these courses are just a start. He said the BFC wants to move its Inuit trainees into higher-level courses, to prepare them for future management-level positions.

The courses are popular. Ward says the BFC chose their 12 trainees from 110 applicants.

These courses are important to the BFC too, Ward said, because they will help the organization meet a minimum target of 50 per cent Inuit employment on the two trawlers they’ve chartered to fish their quota this year.

That means the BFC will need to develop a pool of between 30 and 40 Inuit crew members this year and next.

As for the “Six-Eleven” proposal that made some HTO members fear they will lose revenue from separate pieces of turbot quota they hold in southern Davis Strait, or division “0B,” Ward says those fears are based on a misunderstanding.

He said that under the proposal, the BFC, rather than southern operators like Clearwater, would catch their OB allocations for them, but that the affected members would still retain their royalty revenues – and possibly get a better price from the BFC.

Some members, including the Nativak hunters and trappers organization in Qikiqtarjuaq, have threatened to leave the BFC if they don’t see more benefits for their communities.

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