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No local participation in Five Nations Clam Co.: N.L. minister

Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne offers gratitude to Crown lands office staff in Corner Brook during a press conference Wednesday morning.
Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne - Gary Kean

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The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador wants to know exactly what Indigenous participation there is within the Five Nations Clam Co.

At the Confederation Building Wednesday afternoon, provincial Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne said not only does the company not live up to its name, but it does not have representation from within the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In September, federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced a new licence for the Arctic surf clam fishery, with 25 per cent of the quota allocated to the new entrant. A request for proposals process was to award the licence to an Indigenous entry (or partnership including Indigenous leadership) based in Atlantic Canada or Quebec.

On Feb. 21, the award went to Five Nations Clam Co. — a new entity “made up of First Nations from Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick,” according to a Department of Fisheries and Oceans news release.

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After investigating, Byrne said that’s just not the case and Newfoundland and Labrador has no connection to what has been put in place.

As The Chronicle Herald reported shortly following the licence award, the Five Nations Clam Co. is an Indigenous partnership including Premium Seafoods, and it won the Arctic surf clam quota over eight other applicants.

Clearwater Seafoods previously held all licences for Arctic surf clams, processing them at a plant in Grand Bank.

“While Grand Bank has full employment of Newfoundlander and Labradorians, able to get that full employment on a 12-month basis, Premium Seafoods has been reaching out because they cannot find local labour. They’ve been employing foreign workers over a very long period of time,” Byrne said, calling the licence award “inappropriate” and “unacceptable.”

Echoing comments from Premier Dwight Ball on Tuesday, Byrne said the next step would be to speak with LeBlanc, before the licence is issued.

A date for a meeting has not been set.

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