Landmark Reconciliation Agreement Reached in the Arctic Surf Clam Fishery

Fourteen First Nations Announce Landmark Agreement with Clearwater on Arctic Surf Clam

A total of 14 First Nations communities in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador and Clearwater Seafoods Incorporated announced they have reached a landmark agreement to the benefit of all parties.

The agreement forges a 50-year partnership that protects existing jobs in the Arctic surf clam fishery while creating meaningful economic, employment and capacity building for the fourteen First Nations that are adjacent to the clam resource.

“The strength of this agreement is the opportunity it creates for the 14 First Nations adjacent to the resource to become meaningful participants in the commercial fishery,” said Chief Terrance Paul, Chief of Membertou First Nation and Co-Chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs.

“This is a business development model that has been successful for our community in other sectors and it makes sense to extend it to the seafood industry with Clearwater, as they have industry knowledge and experience.”

The voluntary agreement will be effective immediately and benefits to participating First Nations are retroactive to January 2019.  The agreement will provide millions of dollars in benefits to First Nations through annual revenue sharing, training, leadership development, employment, as well as procurement of goods and services from Indigenous suppliers. The partners also commit to work together to submit an Expression of Interest in any new upcoming DFO process.

“It is historic and, in my opinion, a great example of Reconciliation,” said Chief Misel Joe (O.C.), Chief of Miawpukek First Nation.

“Fourteen First Nations communities adjacent to this resource are working collaboratively to ensure that benefits are shared among First Nations. This agreement creates meaningful employment opportunities for our community members without displacing others who have dedicated their lives to this industry and also need the jobs.”

This agreement is an example of business responding to the Call for Action (92) from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is consistent with Clearwater’s commitment to diversity in our workplace.

“We know we can be a leader for our industry and demonstrate that Indigenous Reconciliation can unite and strengthen communities, build trust, secure existing jobs, create new ones and provide greater prosperity for all,” said Ian Smith, chief executive officer at Clearwater Seafoods.

“Clearwater supports the objectives of Reconciliation and believes business has a role in increasing Indigenous participation in the Canadian economy including the seafood industry.”

“I would like to thank Clearwater Seafoods for this initiative in building relationships that will protect jobs, grow the economy and strengthen our rural communities while continuing indigenous reconciliation,” said Churence Rogers, Member of Parliament for Bonavista–Burin–Trinity.

“My emphasis has always been about protecting the people in Grand Bank and the Burin Peninsula that are employed in this industry and it will remain my focus in moving forward. I will always support partnerships that protect the existing jobs in the surf clam industry, and I look forward to working with all stakeholders within this important process.”

Rex Matthews, Mayor of Grand Bank said, “This agreement protects the workers at the Grand Bank Seafoods plant.  Clearwater has been an employer in Grand Bank for more than 25 years and is an irreplaceable part of our community.  I am proud to support their agreement with First Nations. This is a great example of how Clearwater cares about their employees and helps build strong communities.”

Smith stated, “Clearwater is taking a leadership role to build strong business relationships with First Nations.  This is an opportunity to expand access and participation in commercial fisheries in a collaborative and voluntary manner. Together we can build a valuable and sustainable Canadian seafood industry for everyone while respecting historic investments.”

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