GN grants money to Qikiqtarjuaq fishermen

Nattivak will test feasibility of inshore fishery close to home


Members of Qikiqtarjuaq’s Nattivak Hunters and Trappers Association are getting ready to add another boat to their growing fleet of small fishing vessels.

This time, it’s a 30-foot vessel called the Gaski, which they’ll use to conduct a test turbot fishery, near their community, in the inshore section of area 0A.

To help pay for the project, the Government of Nunavut’s Department of the Environment will give the Qikiqtarjuaq fishermen $34,000, while Nattivak will put in at least $60,000 of its own money.

Seemee Nookiguaq, who handles communications for the Nattivak organization, said the HTA is pleased to see that the GN is prepared to support Qikiqtarjuaq’s community fishery.

“It’s a good role-reversal for them,” Nookiguaq said.

Last year, Nattivak left the Baffin Fisheries Coalition, a partnership whose creation in 2001 was fostered and encouraged by the GN, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., and the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

Nattivak then formed a company called Masiliit Corp., of which which they own 100 per cent. They struck a deal with a southern firm called Clarence Cabot, to acquire ownership of a 100-foot fishing vessel called the Genny and Doug, as well as a groundfish licence.

The Genny and Doug is now fishing for turbot in area OB, under another agreement reached last April between Masiliit and the Inuit-owned Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative Society of Makkovik, Labrador.

This year, the Gaski will be used to employ about 20 workers, on rotation. They’ll also test the feasibility of offloading fish caught by the Gaski at Qikiqtarjuaq, and also onto a “mother ship,” likely the Baffin Sound, a larger vessel that Nattivak is preparing to acquire.

Nattivak hopes to use this kind of small-boat, community-based inshore fishery to feed a proposed seafood processing plant that they hope to build in Qikiqtarjuaq.

Nookiguaq said Nattivak has almost finished retrofitting the Gaski for use in the project.

The last piece of the puzzle will be filled in when the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board responds to an application that Nattivak made last month for 400 tonnes of turbot in area 0A.

The 400-tonne allocation is an extra amount, usually granted towards the end of the fishing season. Nattivak hopes to use all or part of that this season to support the experimental inshore pilot project that the Gaski would be part of.

Nattivak’s vessel’s are outfitted with “fixed gear,” or hook-and-line fishing equipment, a method that some consider to be safer than bottom trawling, a practice that’s common among other companies that fish in Davis Strait.

This week, the international environment organization Greenpeace issued a call for a temporary moratorium on bottom-trawling, saying the practice is destroying sea-beds. Greenpeace said 60 per cent of bottom-trawling takes place in areas managed by the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization – which includes Nunavut’s adjacent offshore.

The Globe and Mail newspaper weighed in this past Tuesday with an editorial supporting such a moratorium. “For once, Greenpeace is right,” the newspaper said.

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