GNWT agreement gives fishers ‘ownership in their industry’

An agreement between the Government of the Northwest Territories and a fishing cooperative ensures the future Hay River fish plant will be “largely controlled by the fishermen”.

This is according to the Tu Cho Fishers Cooperative, part of the NWT Fishermen’s Federation, which signed the agreement with the department of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) on July 22.

The GNWT says the agreement re-establishes ITI’s commitment to the NWT’s fishing industry, and addresses the business partnership between the GNWT and the Tu Cho Fishers Cooperative.

Troy Linington, spokesperson for Tu Cho Fishers Cooperative, says the agreement establishes the amount of influence NWT fishers will have over the future plant.

Under the current system, fish caught in the NWT are sent to the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation in Winnipeg where they are processed.

This limits the revenue earned by fishers to only earn 30 per cent of the profit from fish caught in Great Slave Lake, Linington says. The fishing plant will ensure they earn more.

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The additional revenue will create jobs and potentially attract fishers from other areas of the country, he explains.

The fish plant will offer local food to residents of the NWT and expand the market outside the territory’s borders for both fish and fish byproducts.

The release didn’t specifically mention the increase in revenue, but did say the GNWT’s strategy will “see the current business model on the lake change”.

“NWT producers, through a cooperative, will see the benefits of having a direct say — and even ownership in their industry,” it reads.

The GNWT also addressed the importance of the plant.

“Central to this plan is the establishment of a new state-of-the-art processing facility in Hay River,” the release continues.

Additionally, NWT fishers will be offered the resources and capital requirements they need to update their operations.

Linington says he is happy with ITI’s commitment to NWT’s fishers and specifically credits Katrina Nokleby, minister of ITI, for her help.

Cameron Beaverbones, the signatory of the agreement as part of the Tu Cho Fishers Cooperative, says the fish plant issue that has been in the works for a long time, is finally resolved.

“We’ve been waiting for this for quiet a while,” he concludes.

The GNWT says it will be seeking a design-build tender for a revised fish plant in the coming months, capable of processing and packaging up to 1.5 million pounds of fish a year.

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He is happy to call the Northwest Territories home and is always listening for stories that matter to the community. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at luke.carroll@cklbradio.com