First Nations show interest in Arctic surf clam quota

Published on
November 7, 2017

Two First Nations have submitted proposals for a share of the Arctic surf clam fishery quota in Atlantic Canada. 

As previously reported by SeafoodSource, Canada’s fisheries minister, Dominic LeBlanc had re-allocated 25 percent of the Artic surf clam quota to a native-run fishery. First Nations in Atlantic Canada and Quebec were invited to submit a proposal for this share of the quota. 

Prior to the minister’s re-allocation, Clearwater Seafoods of Bedford, Nova Scotia had been the sole company in this fishery, holding three surf clam licenses. 

The minister set a 2 November deadline for the submission of expressions of interest. At the time of the announcement, Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nations, announced that 13 Nova Scotia’s Mi’kmaq communities had decided to work together to pursue the clam quota.  

The ministry has confirmed that two groups have applied for the license. One is a collective of the Miawpukek First Nation, Innu Nation, and Qalipu First Nation in Newfoundland Labrador, and the other is from Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia.

The Newfoundland bid proposes working with the Cooke Clam Group for technical support and advice.

The Mi’kmaq proposal involves partnering with Clearwater. The Mi’kmaq would own 100 percent of the license, with Clearwater providing skills training, job opportunities and access to technology. Given that the clam takes 40 to 50 years to mature and the investment required (up to CAD 50 million [USD 39.1 million, EUR 33.8 million] for a vessel) Chief Paul sees this as having the potential to be a 50-year agreement or longer.

If his group’s bid is successful, Chief Paul said the surf clam license could be worth CAD 315 million (USD 246.6 million, EUR 213 million) over the life of the agreement and could positively impact the province’s 20,000 Mi’kmaq. Among the spin-offs would be the immediate creation of 25 harvesting jobs on-board at CAD 76,000 (USD 59,500, EUR 51,400) per annum and 30 or more processing jobs at CAD 30,000 (USD 23,500, EUR 20,285) or more per annum.

The minister has yet to approve either proposal, but the license, when issued, starts in 2018.

Reporting from Eastern Canada

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