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The Department of Fisheries and Oceans quietly cancelled a controversial Arctic surf clam licence in July and didn’t announcement publicly until late on a Friday afternoon in August.

The decision caused outrage in Grand Bank, because the Clearwater-owned fish plant stood to lose 25 per cent of the quota. DFO issued the following release on Friday, a few weeks after Dominic LeBlanc was shuffled out of the fisheries portfolio.

“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. The benefits of this lucrative fishery—and public resource—can increase the economic well-being of Indigenous communities.

“In February 2018, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced it would be issuing a fourth Arctic Surf Clam licence to Five Nations Clam Company. The current process to issue a fourth Arctic Surf Clam licence was cancelled in early July, and the reasons subsequently shared with the proponent.  A new Arctic Surf Clam licence will not be issued in 2018.

“The remaining 25 per cent of the 2018 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) may be made available following discussions with the current licence holder. This would allow for the economic benefits to remain in coastal communities while Fisheries and Oceans Canada 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 a holder for the fourth license for this fishery in the spring of 2019, so that the participant can begin fishing the new license in 2020. An independent third-party will evaluate the submissions, and make recommendations to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

“This new process will once again focus on confirming and validating the specific direct and significant benefits that will flow to Indigenous communities, as well as the proponents’ readiness to implement their submissions. More details will be made available in due course.”

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