A pan-Atlantic Indigenous partnership, which includes the Southern Inuit, has been formed to pursue the recently released Artic Surf Clam quota.
The partnership is between the Innu of Quebec, the Mi’kmaq of New Brunswick, the Southern Inuit of Labrador and Ocean Choice International (OCI).
Andy Turnbull, CEO of Nunacor, the economic development company for the NunatuKavut Community Council, said it is a great opportunity for all the groups involved.
“For us it’s the first time to partner in a venture like this with other indigenous groups,” he told the Labradorian. “Personally I would like to be doing more of this in the future. Within our group, we each have our own expertise we bring to the table.”
While the surf clam industry is new to them, Turnbull said the fishery experience they have in terms of harvesting is part of their contribution to the group.
“We’ve each been involved in the fishery in the past in various ways. For us it has always been harvesting, for others it has been processing, for others it has been marketing and sales. Bring that all together and I think we have a very solid partnership. There’s a lot of fishery knowledge and expertise that we bring to this proposal.”
Turnbull said he would like to stress as well that it is an indigenous led partnership and the indigenous groups will be involved in all steps of the process, everything from purchasing the vessel, harvesting, hiring, right on through to the processing and sale of the product.
“It’s that instant involvement in capacity building for the groups,” he said. “There’s no phase in approach to indigenous capacity or involvement, its right from day one. It’s a very solid indigenous partnership, we’re happy to have OCI partnering; they bring a lot of expertise, especially in the sales side. International sales is the target market for this product.”
That level of involvement is included in the Memorandum of Understanding with OCI. The partnership overall, depending on the final structure should this be successful, would be 80-85 per cent owned by the indigenous entities. There is also a skills and management training component, to help strengthen Indigenous capacity and ability in the fishery going forward.
“It’s a unique and exciting milestone for the country’s fishery. OCI is pleased to be part of real change and foster a true sense of collaboration in how our fishery operates,” said Martin Sullivan, CEO of OCI in a press release about the partnership.
“We are confident in this proposal and feel it highlights a partnership that strengthens the Indigenous community’s ability to participate in the surf clam fishery, while also benefiting the Atlantic region as a whole.”