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First Nations group wins lucrative clam fishery, breaks up Clearwater monopoly 

OTTAWA-A company made up of First Nations from Quebec and Atlantic Canada has been awarded a new licence for Arctic surf clam, breaking up a years-long monopoly on the multimillion-dollar industry held by fisheries giant Clearwater Seafoods Inc.

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc says granting the lucrative offshore licence to Five Nations Clam Co. will boost Indigenous participation in the industry and spread economic and social benefits across eastern Canada.

Last year, the government announced it would add a fourth licence comprising 25 per cent of the total allowable catch of Arctic surf clam, and that the successful applicant would be an Indigenous entity and majority Canadian-owned.

Clearwater is calling foul on the decision following their unsuccessful bid, which involved partnering with 13 Mi’kmaq bands in Nova Scotia.

Five Nations Clam will partner with Premium Seafoods to harvest, process and market the catch.

The Five Nations Clam Company is a new entity that will be comprised of First Nations from QuebecNova ScotiaNewfoundland and LabradorPrince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. This entity will partner with Premium Seafoods to harvest, process and market the catch.

Two groups had publicly announced they had applied. One involved  the deal between Clearwater and 13 Mi’kmaq communities in Nova Scotia, while the other comprises a partnership between three Indigenous groups in Newfoundland and Labrador – the Miawpukek First Nation, the Innu Nation and the Qalipu First Nation – who say they will work with the Cooke Clam Group for technical support and advice.

“The inclusion of participants from each Atlantic province and Quebec will allow the benefits of this lucrative fishery to flow to a broad group of First Nations, and will help create good, middle-class jobs for Indigenous peoples in each Atlantic province and Quebec. This is a powerful step toward reconciliation.” The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, P.C., Q.C., M.P., Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick Facts

  • In September 2017, the Minister announced his intention to introduce a fourth license for Arctic Surf Clam representing 25% of the Total Allowable Catch for that fishery.
  • The new license is issued within the current Total Allowable Catch.
  • There was an eight-week Expression of Interest process beginning September 7, 2017.
  • Applicants were required to: be majority owned by Canadians; demonstrate an ability to comply with all the measures set out in the existing conditions of the licence; be an Indigenous entity located in one of the four Atlantic provinces or Quebec.
  • DFO assessed eligible proposals received in the context of the proposed direct and significant benefits that will be generated for Indigenous communities in the applicant’s geographic area including shore-based employment, skills training and other community benefits. Priority was given to proposals received from an aggregate of multiple communities that could demonstrate capacity to collectively manage this fishery in order to benefit several Indigenous communities.
  • The long-term sustainability of the Arctic Surf Clam fishery is a priority for our government. DFO bases its fisheries management decisions, including the Arctic Surf Clam fishery, on the precautionary principle, the best available science, and consultations with those most impacted by the decision

The fishing grounds for Arctic surf clams are located mainly off Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, and the current quota is about 38,000 tonnes and worth tens of millions of dollars annually.

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