Nunavut fishers get more turbot quota from Ottawa
Fisheries association values total allowable harvest increase at $12 million
Nunavut’s turbot fishery could see $12 million in additional annual revenue, now that quotas in the northern fishing zone known as subarea 0, off the east coast of Baffin Island, are increased by 2,035 tonnes for the next two seasons.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced that increase Jan. 24, in a notice to Nunavut fish harvesters.
The quota increase for turbot—also known as Greenland halibut—will see a total allowable harvest jump from 8,575 tonnes to 9,592.5 tonnes in division 0A, and all of that increase will go to Nunavut fishers.
In division 0B, total allowable harvest will increase from 7,575 tonnes to 8,592.5 tonnes, and 90 per cent of that increase will go to Nunavut fishers, while Inuit fishers in Nunavik will get the remaining 10 per cent.
“It’s a sizable increase. We are very excited about it,” said Brian Burke, executive director of the Nunavut Fisheries Association. “We fought long and hard to get to the point where we are getting the majority of increases.
“We’re pleased DFO recognizes adjacency.”
The Nunavut Fisheries Association is a lobby group made up of the four Inuit-owned companies that hold right to fish for shrimp and turbot in waters off Nunavut.
Burke said the increase makes the turbot fishery an $80-million industry in Nunavut. And it means Nunavut fishers hold just over three-quarters of turbot quotas in Nunavut’s adjacent waters. That’s about 13,875 tonnes of turbot.
“We have the capacity to fish the quota,” Burke said, calling turbot a “renewable resource” for the territory.
The quota increase follows stock surveys done by the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization’s scientific council. DFO last increased turbot quotas in 2017.
Nunavut fishers hold quotas for all the turbot fished in division 0A, a fishing ground in the more northerly part of subarea O that stretches from roughly Qikiqtarjuaq to Ellesmere Island.
Even with this increase, Nunavut interests still hold less than 50 per cent of turbot quota in the older and more southerly division 0B.
As for shrimp, Nunavut fishers hold only 37 per cent of quotas in Nunavut’s adjacent waters.
Now that the turbot quota is increased, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board will dole out that quota through its commercial fisheries allocation policy.
In a release, Qikiqtaaluk Corp., which owns the fishing trawler FV Saputi, said the quota will lead to the “the increase of the economic viability of Nunavut companies fishing these allocations.”
“These latest allocations to Nunavut by the federal government is a step in the right direction and (show) its commitment to Indigenous reconciliation,” QC President Harry Flaherty said in the release.
The new quota will kick in for Nunavut fishers around May or June, when the ice begins to leave the area.
Most turbot fished in Nunavut is offloaded in Newfoundland and Greenland and shipped to countries like China, Japan and Taiwan.
Iqaluit’s new deep-water port won’t be used by the commercial fishery, because sailing towards the Nunavut capital would take about as long as it takes to sail to existing ports of use, Burke said.
The Nunavut Fisheries Association would like to see a commercial port built closer to Nunavut fishing grounds, near Qikiqtarjuaq.