Media Centre

NTI condemns federal giveaway of northern shrimp fishery

NR 03-10 FIS ENG NTI Condemns Fisheries Decision.doc

(MAY 28, 2003 — Naujaat, Nunavut) The Board of Directors of Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Inuit land claims organization, today condemned the federal decision to deny Nunavummiut fair access to the shrimp fishery off Baffin Island.

Federal Fisheries Minister Robert Thibeault announced Monday that Nunavut fishers would get 51 per cent of the additional quota of 2,127 metric tonnes in Shrimp Zone 1, with the rest to go to commercial fishery interests based thousands of kilometres away. As a result, Nunavut’s overall share of its adjacent northern shrimp resource is just 19 per cent.

The federal decision compromises the sustainable economic future of Inuit and their communities on Baffin Island, said NTI 2nd Vice President Raymond Ningeocheak. This giveaway is completely unacceptable. Canada made no attempt to follow the process set out in the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA), let alone its earlier recommendations that Nunavut receive 100 per cent of future quota increases in adjacent waters.

NTI asserts that the federal decision is “fundamentally unsound’ because it:
Contravenes Section 15.3.7 of the NLCA, which requires government to recognize the importance of the principles of adjacency and economic dependence of communities in the Nunavut Settlement Areas on marine resources, and … give special consideration to these factors when allocating commercial fishing licences
Was taken without appropriate consultation with Nunavut Inuit, in violation of the Crown’s fiduciary obligation to Inuit, and
Contravenes the earlier recommendation of the Independent Panel on Access Criteria to not grant additional access to non-Nunavut interests in waters adjacent to Nunavut until the territory has achieved access to a major share of its adjacent fishery resources – a recommendation accepted by the Minister in November 2002.

Thibeault called Monday’s announcement one of the best news stories in the Atlantic Canada fishery. But as Ningeocheak noted, It might benefit those with no cod left to catch, but it comes at the expense of Inuit trying to develop our own shrimp fishery.

NTI urges the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans to reconsider this decision as soon as possible, as it ignores the government’s own constitutional and policy obligations, he added.

In the meantime, NTI is examining all options available for ensuring NLCA obligations are met, including an assessment of the financial impact on Baffin communities if the DFO decision is not rescinded. NTI will continue to work closely with the Government of Nunavut on resolving this issue.

For further information:

Nancy Campbell
Director of Communications
Tel: (867) 975-4900
Fax: (867) 975-4943 Gabriel Nirlungayuk