Arctic Surf Clam Partnership
A unique pan-Atlantic Indigenous partnership has been formed to pursue the recently released Arctic Surf Clam quota, and on November 2nd submitted a proposal to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The innovative partnership between the Innu of Quebec, the Mi’gmaq of New Brunswick, the Southern Inuit of Labrador and Ocean Choice International (OCI) hope to be the successful applicant for the new Indigenous Arctic surf clam license. The partnership is also open to accepting another Indigenous group from Nova Scotia and/or PEI. This joint proposal clearly demonstrates the abilities of various Indigenous communities to exchange and collaborate among themselves and work closely with the industry to reach the same goal.
OCI has agreed to be the main commercial partner for this pan-Atlantic Indigenous partnership.
A major feature of this proposal is that there will be immediate participation by Indigenous entities in all aspects of the surf clam business including fishing, processing and marketing. The new partnership will own the license, vessel and processing plant directly, so there will be no phase-in period for Indigenous participation. This is a clear goal of Minister LeBlanc’s decision to reconfigure access to the Arctic surf clam fishery for 2018, and this proposal fully meets that objective immediately.
“Indigenous control will always be maintained in this partnership, as it is stated in our MOU with OCI. Our community looks forward to working with OCI and appreciates its knowledge and expertise in the industry. The ability to begin immediately and participate in all areas, including fishing, processing and marketing is truly unique,” said Francis Ishpatua, Vice-Chief, Innu Band Council of Nutashkuan, Quebec.
There is also a significant skills and management training component included in the proposal, which will help strengthen Indigenous capacity and ability in this sector going forward.
“The Indigenous communities will see significant benefits from this partnership including employment, capacity building and revenue. We look forward to the opportunity to become a key player in this particular segment of the fishery and expanding our commercial fisheries operations,” said Andy Turnbull, CEO of Nunacor, the economic development company for the NunatuKavut Community Council in Labrador.
An important part of Indigenous culture is resource sustainability and responsible harvesting practices. This was not missed in the development of the partnership and proposal.
“This partnership with OCI will ensure we can bring clams to market in a responsible manner, which is very important to us as we move forward. The sustainability of the fishery is vital and the partnership with OCI and other Indigenous groups strengthens our ability to put forward a solid and ethical proposal,” said Ken Barlow, Chief, Indian Island First Nation, representing the North Shore Micmac District Council of New Brunswick.
A significant benefit of this proposal is that it distributes benefits right across the Atlantic region and in all the communities of the Indigenous partners.
“It’s a unique and exciting milestone for the country’s fishery. OCI is pleased to be part of real change and foster a true sense of collaboration in how our fishery operates,” said Martin Sullivan, CEO of Ocean Choice. “We are confident in this proposal and feel it highlights a partnership that strengthens the Indigenous community’s ability to participate in the surf clam fishery, while also benefiting the Atlantic region as a whole,” says Sullivan.
The Indigenous partners and OCI look forward to working together and hope for a positive response from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
About the Partners
NDC Fisheries Limited was incorporated in November 2004 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Nunacor Development Corporation, which is the business development arm of the NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) in Labrador. NDC Fisheries Limited primarily harvests snow crab and shrimp, with all catch currently landed and processed in Labrador by NunatuKavut fishers. The NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) represents 6,000 southern Inuit of NunatuKavut, a people who have occupied and utilized resources off the Labrador coast and interior since ancient times.
The council of the Innu Band of Nutashkuan was created in 1952 and represents 1,200 people along the north shore of Quebec, and is located 430 kilometers east of Sept-Îles. It has an active involvement in the fishing industry with ownership of 15 licenses across many species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence including snow crab, lobster, Arctic surf clam, herring, scallop, mackerel and groundfish. It is also directly involved in the processing and sales of several products (surf clam, snow crab, whelk and groundfish) caught in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
The North Shore Micmac District Council (“NSMDC”) is a tribal council representing 7 Mi’gmaq First Nations in New Brunswick: Buctouche, Eel Ground, Eel River Bar, Fort Folly, Indian Island, Metepenagiag and Pabineau First Nations, representing over 3,251 members. The communities hold over 360 commercial communal licenses that span over 23 species, including lobster, herring, snow crab, and a number of clam species, in both the DFO Gulf and Maritimes Regions. The communities own 23 fishing vessels and lease many more, sailing out of home ports in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Some of our communities are also involved in aquaculture operations.
Ocean Choice International, a 100% family owned and operated NL company, is one of Canada’s leading vertically integrated seafood harvesting, processing and marketing companies with operations throughout Atlantic Canada and sales and marketing offices around the world. For further information visit www.oceanchoice.com.
Specific objectives to be achieved over the next five years include the following.
- Pan-Atlantic approach: Economic benefits shared throughout Atlantic Canada and Quebec.
- Immediate Indigenous participation in all areas of the business from harvesting, processing to sales.
- Indigenous controlled business with each group dispersing benefits in their respective communities.