Media Centre

NTI proposes solution to off-shore fisheries crisis

NR 03-11 SOL ENG Fisheries Solution.doc

(May 30, 2003 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) In keeping with its commitment to Inuit economic well-being, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Inuit land claims organization, today called for a positive approach to ensuring Nunavummiut have a fair share of their off-shore fishery – one which will require the federal and territorial governments to work together, and with Inuit.

This past week’s escalating and demoralizing exchange about the new northern shrimp quotas did nothing to advance the legitimate goal of Inuit of accessing the major share of the marine resources in waters off Nunavut, said NTI 2nd Vice President Raymond Ningeocheak.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans 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 share of its adjacent northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) resource is just 19 per cent of the total allowable catch in the waters off Baffin Island. The Nunavut Government characterized the move as an appalling injustice and angrily accused Canada of condemning Nunavummiut to poverty and unemployment.

The federal government should reconsider the approach we proposed last year, in collaboration with Makivik Corporation and the Nunavut Government, said Ningeocheak. Highlights included:
Revising Section 15.3.7 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement to clarify the intent of the “adjacency principle’ and government obligations to achieve it,
Giving Inuit access to the federal support programs now available only to First Nations fishers that would allow a fishing fleet to be assembled, and
Developing a long-term process to ensure Nunavummiut achieve an 80 per cent share of the marine resource in adjacent waters, comparable to the levels now found in other Canadian jurisdictions.

NTI is prepared to commit to a multi-party process that would see full implementation of the principle of adjacency phased in along with other practical, affordable measures to build up Nunavut’s commercial fishery, Ningeocheak said. It is unfortunate that DFO chose to reject our proposal earlier this year, and even distorted it to mean that we found the present situation “fundamentally acceptable’ !

NTI formally set out its position in a letter sent Thursday to federal Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault and is hopeful of meeting with him shortly. Now is the time to resume the effort to complete a realistic solution to this on-going challenge, said Ningeocheak.

For further information:
Nancy Campbell
Director of Communications
Tel: (867) 975-4900
Fax: (867) 975-4943 Lucy Maniapik