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Recovery strategy

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (May 09/05) - It's been talked about for years, and now a report is recommending Great Slave Lake fishers opt out of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation.

The proposal is in the report of the Great Slave Fishery Task Force Group, presented to the April 28 annual general meeting of the NWT Fishermen's Federation.


Lionel Rundle is president of the NWT Fishermen's Federation

The report states fishers should examine the feasibility of establishing a fishermen-controlled business to market and sell their catches, independent of the corporation.

Fishermen at the meeting unanimously adopted the report.

"I think it's a great report," said federation president Lionel Rundle.

"Everything is the truth in that report."

Rundle says the next step is implementation. "I know it will be implemented as long as we have a driving force behind it."

Territorial government employee Beatrice Lepine helped research and prepare the report for the fishermen's federation, but she returns to her normal job in late May.

Lepine says the fishers now need a business advisor.

If funding becomes available, Rundle believes there will be a fishermen-owned processing plant in Hay River in two years.

The report begins with a gloomy assessment of the current state of the Great Slave Lake fishery.

"The commercial fishery on Great Slave Lake has been in considerable decline since the early '90s and without some drastic steps toward recovery, the fishery will eventually collapse," the report states.

While the fishery is sustainable, many fishers have left the industry because of low prices, high production costs and insufficient returns from the corporation, which markets catches outside the NWT.

Other recommendations in the report include upgrading equipment and living conditions for fishermen, and seeking certification of the lake as a sustainable fishery.