Seafood that sits on the seabed, such as the sea urchin seen here, are on the shores of Nunavut and Qikiqtaaluk Corporation has committed $1 million, in partnership with Future Skills Canada, to develop inshore fisheries in communities. (Photo provided by Jerry Ward)

Qikiqtaaluk Corp. pressing ahead with inshore fisheries program

More fisheries would provide jobs, secure access to food for more Nunavummiut

By David Lochead

Following a second tour of Nunavut’s seabeds this summer by its research vessel, Qikiqtaaluk Corporation is pushing ahead with its support for communities to build their own inshore fisheries.

“This has got great potential,” Qikiqtaaluk Corp.’s fisheries director Jerry Ward said.

On Dec. 1, the corporation announced a partnership with Future Skills Centre, a federally funded organization focused on career development, to commit $1 million to build the fisheries.

The fisheries would be used to catch seafood such as scallops, sea cucumbers and sea urchins that live on the seabed.

For the past two summers, Qikiqtaaluk, the Inuit birthright development corporation owned by the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, has run its research vessel, the Ludy Pudluk, through the waters around Nunavut communities, including Sanikiluaq and Kinngait.

That work has shown the possibility for seabed-dwelling seafood to provide food security and business opportunities.

The Ludy Pudluk’s underwater camera found that, in some places, there can be so many scallops, it is impossible to see the seabed, Ward said.

The priority for developing inshore fisheries in Nunavut communities will be to ensure a secure access to food for residents.

If more seafood is available, Ward said, having commercial fisheries in communities could provide jobs and a product that could be exported to markets like East Asia.

In 2019, Nunavut Fisheries Association members contributed $112 million to the territory’s economy and provided 1,000 jobs, according to an independent study the association commissioned.

Ward said the funding will help his organization and Future Skills put a liaison in Nunavut’s communities to help with the process of developing inshore fisheries close to the shoreline.

A liaison could work with local hunters and trappers associations on what is required to get a licence from Fisheries and Oceans Canada for an inshore fishery.

Training is important, since all fisheries and the equipment used will be run by the communities, Ward said.

The process to receive an exploratory licence includes determining the biomass, which is the total weight of a fish species in an area at a given time.

With the Ludy Pudluk, the crew was able to get the biomass of a seabed by using a light that looks like a laser. The light pointed onto a scallop, measured its weight, then was able to take that weight and extend an estimate into how much all the scallops in the seabed weighed overall.

“Pretty sophisticated stuff,” Ward said.

Once an exploratory licence is received, HTAs will need to establish a total allowable catch to determine how much of a fish species can be caught at a certain time.

Future Skills will also help in entrepreneurship. Once people in a community establish a fishery, at that point it is a business, Ward said.

He said a liaison will be there to help with basic principles, like determining costs to run a business and how to price products for market.

The process to get all the licences will take two to five years, Ward estimated, adding his organization still faces plenty of work to reach its goal of developed inshore fisheries.

It will also seek more funding from various levels of government.

“It’s a long process, it’s an expensive process, and that’s why we’re reaching out for major funding from sources federally or territorially to do this,” Ward said.


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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Fisherman on

    We will notice QFL will only focus on 3 to 4 communities up to 5 years and where will they move on to others with the research vessel,
    New company from Sanikiluaq Kingait Sanigayaaq and Igloolik,
    Hope for the best for future,
    Start hiring captains from Nunavut on this research Vessel from. From NL.



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