It’s back to the courtroom for NTI, DFO


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT Nunavut Tunngavik and the federal fisheries minister are still at loggerheads on turbot quotas in Davis Strait.

So, they’re heading to court again.

NTI filed an application with the federal court Monday challenging fisheries minister David Anderson’s turbot quota for this year.

The application argues that Anderson’s redetermination of the turbot quota in Davis Strait goes against a July 14 federal court ruling and violates the Nunavut land claim agreement with the federal government.

“At no time did the minister ever indicate that he was considering a TAC (total allowable catch) of 5,908 tonnes,” states the application.

“At all times, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB) understood from the minister’s correspondence that the minister was considering a TAC for 1997 of 5,500 tonnes, consistent with the recommendation of the NWMB and consistent with the scientific advice provided to the minister from the Fishery Resource Conservation Council in its 1997 report.”

NTI first went to court in May after former fisheries minister Fred Mifflin announced an 1,100-tonne increase from 5,500 to 6,600 tonnes in the turbot quota, contrary to advice given to him by the wildlife management board.

That decision was overturned by the federal court in July and the matter of setting a new quota was given to new fisheries minister, David Anderson.

Despite advice given to the minister by the NWMB recommending a quota of 5,500 tonnes this year, the minister approved a quota of 5,908 tonnes a reduction of the previous quota of 6,600, but still more than the recommendation.

NTI is also challenging the minister’s policy on adjacency allowing fishers closer to a harvesting ground more rights than those further away.

Citing data compiled by the Federal-Provincial Atlantic Fisheries Committee, NTI argues that Nunavut isn’t being treated fairly in the distribution of adjacency allocations within the turbot fishery.

In almost every case, NTI states in its application, fishers of a province adjacent to a fishing area are allocated the majority share of the groundfish resource. That majority share is generally well over 75 per cent of the resource.

In the area adjacent to Newfoundland, for example, fishers have been allocated nearly 90 per cent of the turbot resource. In the area adjacent to Nunavut, Nunavut fishers have been allocated only about one-quarter of the resource.

NTI will also be in another court, fighting an appeal by DFO against the July court decision.

No court date has been set for either action.

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