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Turbot, shrimp values climb in Nunavut

Federal court prevents transfer of Nunavut coastal fishing licences by Ottawa
This $72-million, 80-metre fishing vessel, belonging to Baffin Fisheries and being constructed in Turkiye, is expected to be delivered during summer 2024.

The value of turbot caught in Nunavut-adjacent waters in 2023 rose 3.3 per cent to $129.9 million from $125.8 million a year earlier.

That occurred despite a decrease in the total allowable catch. The turbot limit for Nunavut in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) subarea 0 was decreased by 1,330 tonnes, or close to nine per cent in 2023. The total catch last year wound up at 16,237 tonnes, down from 17,438 tonnes in 2022.

The Northern and striped shrimp harvest increased by an even larger margin in terms of value. The $92.9 million catch in 2023 overshadowed 2022's $86.7 million by 7.2 per cent. That growth in value belied a lesser quota SA国际影视传媒 16,589 tonnes in 2023 compared to 19,279 tonnes in 2022. There was even a higher allocation in 2023, as it was raised by 1,870 tonnes.

Arctic char revenue and tonnage fell slightly in 2023 compared to the previous year. The value rang in at $265,839, which was 6.7 per cent less than the $284,800 recorded in 2022. The 79,826 kg harvest was less than the 85,249 kg landed in 2022.

The Government of Nunavut's 2024-25 budget indicates that the territory's total allowable catch is valued at $361.1 million, all inclusive. There's another $7.7 million of added value through the preparation and packaging of seafood.

Fisheries and hunting, combined under Statistics Canada data, make up just 0.4 per cent of the territory's gross domestic product in 2023. Those industries have been in decline each year for the past five years and stood at 1.2 per cent in 2019.

The GN budget also noted that the Nunavut Fisheries Association (NFA) estimates 40 per cent of jobs in the offshore fishery are held by Inuit, although it didn't provide the number of workers.

Licence transfer overruled

In late April 2024, the Federal Court of Canada overruled Ottawa's transfer of some fishing licences in Nunavut-adjacent waters to other Indigenous fishing interests.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans turned the licences over to Mi'kmaq First Nations in Nova Scotia in 2021. A judge found that to be unreasonable in light of objectives outlined in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Training funds

In December, the federal government granted $857,000 to the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium to foster an Inuit mentorship program. In addition to allowing development of a mentorship program, the money is also intended to be used for assessment of a business management certificate through the training consortium.

Inuksuk II launched

Baffin Fisheries' Inuksuk II freezer trawler entered the water in late October 2023 at a shipyard in Turkiye, where it was under construction. With interior construction and equipment installation yet to be completed at the time, the $72-million, 80-metre vessel was expected to be delivered during summer 2024.

It is expected to become "the largest Canadian-owned fishing vessel from coast to coast to coast," with capability of hauling 1,230 tonnes of turbot or 930 tonnes of shrimp, according to Baffin Fisheries.

The organization also owns three others factory fishing boats and one factory freezer vessel.

Baffin Fisheries also named a new board of directors in March 2024 with Pangnirtung's Kelly Kilabuk elected as chair, making her the first woman in that role. Jimmy Akavak was selected as vice-chair, Sandy Kautuq as secretary treasurer, Roger Etuangat as chair of the finance committee and Billy Merkosak as chair of the human resources committee.

Baffin Fisheries is owned by hunters and trappers associations in Iqaluit, Pangnirtung, Kimmirut, Pond Inlet and Clyde River.

Baffin Fisheries also owns 32 per cent of Pangnirtung Fisheries Ltd.

About the Author: Derek Neary

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