Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut July 25, 2016 - 8:30 am

Stung by quota ruling, BFC pulls out of Nunavut fishing group

Baffin Fisheries alleges conflict of interest at regional lobbying association

STEVE DUCHARME
The Baffin Fisheries Coalition has pulled out of the Nunavut Offshore Allocation Holders Association, alleging the group is in a conflict of interest. (FILE PHOTO)
The Baffin Fisheries Coalition has pulled out of the Nunavut Offshore Allocation Holders Association, alleging the group is in a conflict of interest. (FILE PHOTO)

The Baffin Fisheries Coalition has walked away from the territory’s fishing industry association, alleging a conflict of interest in the group’s leadership, the company said in a July 22 news release.

The BFC announced that it has suspended its participation in the Nunavut Offshore Allocation Holders Association, or the NOAHA, until the organization advocates for “issues important to the future development of the Nunavut fishing industry as a priority, ahead of the interests of individual members,” the release said.

The BFC lost exclusive rights to the shrimp quota in the Nunavut Settlement Area July 19, after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans rejected an earlier quota ruling by the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board.

The Qikiqtaaluk Corp., the for-profit arm of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association, received 30 per cent of the NSA shrimp quota and the BFC received 70 per cent.

The current chair of the NOAHA is Jerry Ward, who is also the director of fisheries at QC.

“We believe the chair of NOAHA should be independent of individual member companies and should be in an uncompromised position to advance issues that are important to all members and fundamental to the future of the Nunavut fishery,” the BFC statement said.

The BFC also alleges in its release that by influencing the NWMB decision, the DFO compromised the board’s authority and created uncertainty for investors in Nunavut fishing companies.

“All Nunavut fisheries enterprises will be harmed financially by this decision. It demonstrates there are no clear rules in the allocation process, creating a climate of uncertainty in financial markets,” BFC said.

The NWMB’s revised decision, the BFC said, sets “a dangerous precedent for all Nunavummiut,” because the management board caved in to pressure from the DFO.

“Nunavut can and should manage its own natural resources, as established under the [Nunavut Land Claims Agreement],” the BFC said.

“We cannot stand by and give away the authority we have fought for. We believe NOAHA should take a stand on this fundamental issue.”

The Baffin Fisheries Coalition, the QC, the Arctic Fishery Alliance, and the partnership between Pangnirtung Fisheries Ltd. and Cumberland Sound Fisheries Ltd. established the NOAHA as a Nunavut fisheries lobby group in 2012.

According to 2015 estimates, Nunavut’s fishing industry has a total market value of $86 million — employing about 370 Nunavummiut on a seasonal basis.

The size of the total shrimp quota off Nunavut, now split between the BFC and QC, is 4,500 tonnes — with a value estimated at over $33 million, according to per-tonne values reported by the BFC.

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