Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 22, 2016 - 10:00 am

QC gets 30 per cent of Nunavut shrimp after Ottawa leans on NWMB

DFO rejects board’s first decision; BFC gets only 70 per cent

STEVE DUCHARME
The Baffin Fisheries Association trawler FV Sivulliq, now 100-per-cent Inuit-owned. The BFC will now have to settle for only 70 per cent of northern and striped shrimp quota in waters off Nunavut, rather than the 100 per cent that the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board had initially recommended. That's because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans rejected the NWMB's recommendation and asked the wildlife board for a do-over. (FILE PHOTO)
The Baffin Fisheries Association trawler FV Sivulliq, now 100-per-cent Inuit-owned. The BFC will now have to settle for only 70 per cent of northern and striped shrimp quota in waters off Nunavut, rather than the 100 per cent that the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board had initially recommended. That's because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans rejected the NWMB's recommendation and asked the wildlife board for a do-over. (FILE PHOTO)
The Qikiqtaaluk Corp. trawler FV Saputi. QC's fisheries wing has won 30 per cent of the shrimp quota in Nunavut waters. (FILE PHOTO)
The Qikiqtaaluk Corp. trawler FV Saputi. QC's fisheries wing has won 30 per cent of the shrimp quota in Nunavut waters. (FILE PHOTO)

The shrimp harvest quota for waters adjacent to the Nunavut Settlement Area will now be shared between two Baffin fishing companies, the Qikiqtaaluk Corp. and Baffin Fisheries Coalition, following a new, Ottawa-influenced ruling by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

According to the NWMB’s July 19 decision, obtained by Nunatsiaq News, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans rejected an NWMB recommendation to allocate all of the entire Nunavut Settlement Area northern and striped shrimp quota to the BFC, forcing the board to reconsider the issue.

In its submission, the BFC had asked for all of the Nunavut quota — a continuation of the status quo.

But the BFC, whose vessels became 100 per cent Inuit-owned last year, will instead receive only 70 per cent of the shrimp quota in the Nunavut Settlement Area, retroactive to April 1, 2016 and extending until March 2018.

The Qikiqtaaluk Corp., the business arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the owner the FV Saputi, will receive the other 30 per cent.

The first NWMB decision, which the Department of Fisheries and Oceans rejected, granted Baffin Fisheries exclusive access to all the Nunavut Settlement Area shrimp quota for a four-year term.

The gross value of the Nunavut Settlement Area’s total shrimp quota, 4,500 tonnes, is estimated at over $33 million, according to per-tonne values reported by BFC.

“In modifying its initial decision, the NWMB carefully considered the [DFO] minister’s May 24, 2016 written reasons for rejecting the board’s initial decision,” the NWMB decision stated.

Those written reasons were issued while Nunavut MP Hunter Tootoo, who resigned from cabinet and the Liberal caucus May 31, still served as federal fisheries minister.

“While I agree that Baffin Fisheries Coalition is a sound candidate for the allocation of these shrimp quotas inside the [NSA], a four-year allocation term would not facilitate economic development opportunities for other Nunavut based enterprises,” reads a section of the DFO minister’s statement within the NWMB decision.

Baffin Fisheries vice president Methusalah Kunuk told Nunatsiaq News he disagrees with the new ruling.

“We are disappointed that the Liberal government made this decision to overrule the rightful decision makers, the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, when they claim to support the North and its people,” he said in a written statement.

“At the end of the day, this decision will mean less shrimp is harvested by Nunavut companies and more by southern companies.”

The BFC alleges the Qikiqtaaluk Corp. [QC] does not have the vessel capacity to handle the additional shrimp quota, and will be forced to outsource its quota to southern companies that will harvest the shrimp in return for royalties.

But the QC disagrees.

“This allocation as it stands now is more equitable and more fair to two companies, not just one,” said QC fisheries director Jerry Ward, who defended his company’s capacity to fish the additional quota.

“Certainly we have the capacity to fish it on the FV Saputi, that’s not an issue whatsoever.”

Prior to his job with QC fisheries, Ward had served as CEO of BFC from 2001 to 2014.

“The fact of the matter is that no quota should be fished 100 per cent by any company when you have other companies who have the capacity to easily fish this amount of quota,” Ward said.

In its recommendation, the NWMB acknowledged that “repeated requests from Qikiqtaaluk Corp. for fishing opportunities in the area, [as] noted by the [DFO] minister” should not be a factor in its final decision.

But the board agreed with the minister, saying, “Baffin Fisheries has not demonstrated full use of the resource and that other Nunavut enterprises should be provided the opportunity to participate in Nunavut’s shrimp fishery to support economic viability for harvesters.”

But BFC says it has harvested between 85 per cent and 88 per cent of its Nunavut Settlement Area shrimp quota in the two years prior to 2015, when it took only 50 per cent.

The company says the process of buying out other shareholders in 2015 to make the company become 100 per cent Inuit-owned caused a disruption in shrimp harvesting in 2015 and explains their lower harvest that year

The NWMB’s original decision indicated said it would wait until Baffin Fisheries reported its 2016 harvest percentage before amending any quotas, but that compromise was rejected by the DFO.

“Allocating these resources for a two-year term will provide an opportunity to review the allocation structure, as well as the performance of both enterprises in the fishery,” the NWMB concluded.

But Kunuk warns that the about-face by the NWMB damages confidence in Nunavut fisheries for investors.

“This creates uncertainty and means there are no clear rules in the allocation process. Banks like as much certainty as possible. This will make it much more difficult for all Inuit fisheries enterprises to get financing to buy vessels and take control of their companies,” Kunuk said.

The Baffin Fisheries Coalition is a partnership comprising most hunters and trappers associations on east Baffin Island.

Email this story to a friend... Print this page... Bookmark and Share

 THIS WEEK’S ADS

 ADVERTISING