APTN National News
Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities in New Brunswick are hoping a bump in their snow crab quotas will help pay for programs that are underfunded by the federal government.
The department of Fisheries and Oceans announced April 12 it is using a surplus of crab stocks to ensure Indigenous communities receive an increase in their Total Allowable Catch (TAC).
“The communities will substantially benefit from any increase in the level of harvest,” said John G. Paul, executive director of Atlantic Policy Congress. “Both on the employment side, as well as the revenue side.”
Paul said the minister made a positive decision in targeting Indigenous communities so they can use the extra money to offset financial shortfalls or services not funded by the government.
“That’s very significant in those communities in New Brunswick in particular,” said Paul.
One community that will benefit is Esgenoopetitj because they have a harvesting plant.
Esgenoopetitj’s TAC had already doubled from the previous year solely based on the formula used to allocate quotas.
With the government now giving Indigenous communities a higher TAC, it has now more than doubled once again.
Last year their quota was 375 tonnes of snow crab, this year Clark Dedam, president and general manager of Baies Chaleurs Fisheries, is forecasting 850 tonnes.
Dedam said this is a step in the right direction.
“Not one individual benefits from this quota, the whole community benefits,” said Dedam. “What we get, we bring it back to the community.”
The revenue made from a higher TAC will be used for social programs, housing, renovations and repairs, employment programs, and development according to Dedam.
Some communities in New Brunswick, such as Tobique and Eel Ground First Nations, are going from previously not being allocated any amount, to now receiving a substantial TAC.
“I’ve offered my services and they told me as soon as they know the exact amount that they’ll have a chit chat and we’ll see what I can do for them,” said Dedam. “It might be in a way that I can help them find vessels. In return I’m hoping they’ll sell their crab to me.”
Dedam said when he started out in the fishing industry people tried to take advantage of him, so he’s trying to help as much as he can.
“I’m trying to teach them, that learning curve, where I went through it a little bit harder, at least now they have other First Nations they can contact and see what they do in the business” said Dedam.
The fishing season starts when the ice moves. Dedam is predicting April 28.
“It’s going to be a long season we are forecasting, but we’ve prepared as best as we could,” said Dedam.