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Baffin fishery now Inuit owned
Niqitaq Fisheries Ltd. purchases full interest of the company

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, June 23, 2012

A major player in Nunavut's fishery sector has achieved 100 per cent Inuit ownership, with help from a federal government investment.

NNSL photo/graphic

Baffin Fisheries Coalition subsidiary Niqitaq Fisheries Ltd. has purchased full interest of the company with a federal government investment, making Niqitaq a wholly Inuit-owned business. - photo courtesy of Baffin Fisheries Coalition

CanNor -- the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency -- announced this month an investment of more than $400,000 over two years for Baffin Fisheries Coalition's for-profit subsidiary Niqitaq Fisheries Ltd., in order "to increase the level of Inuit ownership and participation of the offshore fishing industry in Nunavut."

Niqitak will use the $424,744 investment to buy out 49 per cent interest in the Baffin fishery from a minority shareholder in St. Johns, NL.

"Right from the beginning the objective was to have (Niqitaq) Inuit-owned and operated, to maximize the benefits to Nunavummiut," said Jerry Ward, CEO of Baffin Fisheries Coalition (BFC) and Niqitaq Fisheries Ltd. "I think it's very important to mention we are very pleased with the fact that CanNor came through for us and made a non-repayable contribution for our organization to allow us to do it, because without it, it would have been difficult."

One of the major roles for BFC going back to its formation in 2001 was to be involved in vessel ownership, Ward added.

Niqitaq currently owns 100 per cent of one vessel and with the investment it will own 100 per cent of one of two more vessels, called Sikuvut.

The three vessels are used to fish for halibut and Northern shrimp in waters adjacent to the territory, off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. The vessels are also used to harvest, process and package the fish for shipping to consumers in Asia and Europe.

Increasing Inuit vessel ownership increases fishing quotas for Nunavut-based fishing interests, and increases training and employment for Nunavummiut, according to CanNor.

"The Government of Canada is pleased to invest in the commercial fishery in Nunavut -- one of the key sectors for economic development in the region," stated Leona Aglukkaq, minister responsible for CanNor. "Inuit-owned companies like Niqitaq are major contributors to economic development and job creation in Nunavut."

Made up of Baffin region hunters and trappers organizations, the coalition was instrumental in developing offshore turbot fishing in Nunavut.

Commercial fisheries contribute $12 to $14 million to the territorial economy each year and provide more than 300 seasonal jobs, according to CanNor.

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