Clearwater sells lobster licenses to Membertou First Nation for CAD 25 million

Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada-based Clearwater Seafoods has agreed to sell two of its eight offshore lobster licenses to the Membertou First Nation for CAD 25 million (USD 18.9 million, EUR 16 million).

The transaction is part of a Clearwater project, initiated in 2019, to bring a new Mi’kmaq participant into the offshore lobster industry, the company said in a press release.

“This transaction builds on and strengthens the business relationship between Clearwater and Membertou, which already includes operating agreements in other Clearwater species, Indigenous employment, and procurement commitments,” the company said. “Clearwater and Membertou First Nation will work collaboratively on our mutual objectives for the offshore lobster fishery: sustainable science-based management of the resource, positive economic growth, and increasing the value of the resource, continued research and development, benefits to local communities, and quality employment.”

The Membertou Development Corporation is the business arm of Membertou's operations, and includes a dozen corporate entities across involved in fisheries, hospitality, tourism, and casinos.

“Membertou is pleased to make this historic strategic investment in the sustainable and well-managed offshore lobster fishery,” Membertou Chief Terry Paul said. “It further strengthens our relationship with Clearwater, leverages their expertise in offshore fisheries, and builds value for our community and provides additional employment and growth opportunities for our people."

Clearwater, which is one of North America's largest vertically integrated seafood companies and the largest holder of shellfish licenses and quotas in Canada, fishing for scallops, lobster, clam, cold-water shrimp, langostine, whelk, crab, and groundfish. In March, the company said it had initiated a sales process, and later that month, it said it would continue with that process despite concerns over COVID-19 causing economic difficulties in the global marketplace.

The sale of the licenses is still subject to closing provisions and regulatory approval, according to Clearwater CEO Ian Smith.

"Clearwater is proud to work with Membertou to create First Nation access to this important offshore fishery,” Smith said. “ This transaction serves as a model of cooperation, with the commercial fishing industry and First Nations working together as equal partners to build value and opportunity for local communities."  


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