MEMBERTOU: Clearwater Seafoods Incorporated, one of the largest fully-integrated seafood companies in North America, is now owned by a coalition of local Mi’kmaq First Nations including Paqtntkek, We’koqma’q, and Potlotek.
“I am incredibly proud to announce that Membertou has led a major commercial acquisition that will have lasting positive impacts on our community for seven generations to come,” Membertou First Nation Chief Terry Paul said. “A truly monumental day for our people.”
In the midst of having a national spotlight shining on commercial fisherman and Mi’kmaq fisherman over their Treaty Right to a moderate livelihood fishery, a coalition of Mi’kmaq communities along with their business partner, Premium Brands Holdings Corporation, acquire the largest holder of shellfish licenses in Canada and one of the world’s leading seafood companies.
The details of this commercial acquisition include the coalition of participating Mi’kmaq communities from across Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, owning 50 per cent of Clearwater Seafoods, and 100 per cent of all Canadian Clearwater licenses.
This strategic investment represents a transformational change in Canadian fisheries, catapulting First Nations into a leading global position in the seafood industry.
“For so many years, our communities were not welcome to participate in big industry. Today, on our own terms, we are 50 per cent commercial owners,” Chief Paul said. “All the benefits of ownership will flow back to our community, and with a seat at the table comes the ability to influence the role of our people in the commercial fishery.”
As for their involvement for what’s been happening in St. Peter’s Bay in relation to Potlotek and Membertou’s moderate livelihood fisheries – the Richmond County Inshore Fishermens Association has declined an interview with The Reporter.
However in an interview with CBC, Gord MacDonald the association’s president, explained his concerns with the industry was that’s it’s in turmoil and there’s no consistency to what’s going on in regards to the management of the fishery.
For the past 20-years, he said commercial and aboriginal fishermen have worked cooperatively side-by-side, but that’s breaking apart because the First Nation side has walked away from the Government of Canada and the minister by making their own plans for their own people. He said they are fishing during a time that is off limits to the commercial fishery due to conservation.
“We follow a set of laws,” he said. “And the same laws that we follow – are being violated by this fishery.”
MacDonald indicated the presentation of this fishery is of a small impact when in reality he believes that’s not exactly the case.
He suggested they were told there was only going to be 420 traps, and only a few people fishing to make a livelihood, and in the past few weeks the number of traps have expanded to over 2,000.
Chief Paul wanted to make it understood that this commercial acquisition is separate from both their moderate livelihood fishery and their commercial inshore fishery operations – and they are proud participants in all sectors of the fishery.
“Today, we are keeping our hero, Donald Marshall Junior, in our hearts,” he added. “It’s a moment we know he would look on with great pride.”