Sanikiluaq scallops for sale
Commercial fishery one step closer to reality

Andrea Cnudde
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Aug 23/99) - Something new is happening in Sanikiluaq.

Just ask Lucassie Arragutainaq or John Melindy. These are two of the people instrumental in bringing commercial fishing one step closer to realization in this small community on the Belcher Islands.

After two years of running a test fishery, followed by a feasibility study, the small-scale scallop fishery in Sanikiluaq is finally in its implementation process.

Lucassie Arragutainaq, manager of the Hunters and Trappers Association, is happy the project is finally under way, although they've only been at it a week due to problems with the boat.

"Were doing pretty good the last few days," he said. "Right now we have 200 to 300 pounds in our freezer and we've sold half that amount already."

The Hunters and Trappers Association has been selling the scallops locally for $10 a pound shucked or $2.50 a pound in the shell.

Arragutainaq says that even though the fishery is in its early stages, seven jobs have already been created in the community as a result.

John Melindy remains cautiously optimistic, although its hard for him to hide his enthusiasm.

"Its a bit of a historic thing happening here," he says, "Its the first time the people here have bought country food."

John Melindy is the owner of Ecological Resources and Associates from Newfoundland. Melindy is on a service contract with the Department of Sustainable Resources to help develop the fishery. After three years in Sanikiluaq working on the project, Melindy stressed that this is just another step towards commercial fishing and many factors still have to be evaluated.

"Its too early to tell yet. We don't have enough information to draw conclusions. Right now were just getting everyones feet wet."

Among those factors under consideration are whether the scallops will be shucked onboard or not and if they can export them out of town economically.

From a resource management point of view, shucking onboard the boat -- although more difficult -- is better, says Larry Simpson from Sustainable Development. The shells are tossed overboard and then become a bed on which young, juvenile scallops will grow. It also cuts down on costs.

"We are also looking at the possibility of selling a quantity to Iqaluit hotels," Simpson says, "and maybe for retail."

That possibility hinges on whether Sanikiluaq can get the scallops on a charter coming to Iqaluit, Simpson says, as it just wouldn't be economical to pay for the freight at this stage.

In the meantime, more exploration, more fishing and more evaluating will bring the hamlet of 700 residents closer to their goal of being home to a viable commercial fishery.