Clearwater Permitted to Fish 100 Per Cent of Arctic Surf Clam Quota

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) confirmed Sept. 11 that the remaining 25 per cent of the 2018 and 2019 Arctic surf clam Total Allowable Catch (TAC) will be made available to the current licence holder, Clearwater, with a view to identify a new participant for the 2020 fishery.

DFO said this decision will allow for the economic benefits to remain in coastal communities while it continues to work to broaden access to this fishery.

“In order to move forward on implementing enhanced access and promoting reconciliation, we will be launching a new Expression of Interest process to identify an Indigenous entity to hold a fourth license for this fishery in the spring of 2019, so that the participant can begin fishing a new license in 2020. An independent third-party will evaluate the submissions received. Further details on this process will be made available in due course,” DFO said in a press release.

“The decision to introduce Indigenous participation in the Arctic surf clam fishery is consistent with the Government of Canada’s commitment to developing a renewed relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. Enhancing access to the Arctic surf clam fishery broadens the distribution of benefits from this public resource, and is a powerful step toward reconciliation.”

In a related matter, on Sept. 12 Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion reported that he has found former Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc to be in conflict of interest related to his decision to pursue issuing an Arctic surf clam licence to the Five Nations Clam Company.

Dion’s reported summary stated:

I had to determine whether Mr. LeBlanc contravened subsection 6(1) and section 21 of the Act. Subsection 6(1) prohibits public office holders from making a decision that would place them in a conflict of interest. As established in section 4, public office holders are in a conflict of interest when they exercise an official power, duty or function that provides an opportunity to further their private interests or those of their relatives or friends or to improperly further another person’s private interests. Section 21 requires them to recuse themselves from any discussion, decision, debate or vote on any matter in respect of which they would be in a conflict of interest.

As Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Mr. LeBlanc was exercising an official power, duty or function when he made the decision to pursue the proposal from the Five Nations Clam Company for the Arctic surf clam licence. His decision provided an opportunity to further the private interest of Mr. Thériault, whose compensation by the company depended on it being granted the licence. 

As a first cousin of Mr. LeBlanc’s spouse, Mr. Thériault is his relative under subsection 2(3) of the Act, which defines relatives as persons related to the public office holder by birth, marriage, common-law partnership, adoption or affinity. Although I have the discretion to limit the scope of this definition, I found no reason in this case to do so. 

Mr. LeBlanc was aware of Mr. Thériault’s extensive involvement in the fishing industry. He was also aware of his family relationship to Mr. Thériault when he made the decision to pursue next steps in issuing the licence to the Five Nations Clam Company. In fact, Mr. Thériault raised the licencing issue with Mr. LeBlanc prior to the decision and Mr. Thériault’s name appeared on the proposal submitted to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and read in full by Mr. LeBlanc. 

I therefore found that Mr. LeBlanc contravened subsection 6(1) and section 21 of the Act.

 

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