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Premier says N.L. wants meeting with feds about surf clams

Premier Dwight Ball
Premier Dwight Ball - Diane Crocker

When the Progressive Conservative member for Cape St. Francis, Kevin Parsons, asked about the Liberal government’s response to the move of Arctic surf clam quota out of Newfoundland and Labrador, it was Premier Dwight Ball who first responded.

Jumping on the question in the House of Assembly Monday, Ball acknowledged the process to review the quota has been ongoing for some time, with a related request for proposals dating back to September 2017.

“There’s been a considerable amount of dialogue and work that has gone on, on behalf of this government. We’ve had our MHAs from that area that have been writing letters, have facilitated meetings with local leaders in Grand Bank. We’ve also met with all our MPs. We met just recently with Seamus O’Regan, the minister, of course, our regional minister right now,” he said.

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“Just this morning, the minister and I had a long conversation with Indigenous leaders, all five groups in our province. This raises concerns and questions for us around the decision-making in all of this, Mr. Speaker. And we’ve agreed now on behalf of our Indigenous leaders, and indeed people all across our province, that we will be reaching out to the minister requesting a meeting for clarification around this process that has been currently put in place last week.”

Clearwater Seafoods previously held all licences for Arctic surf clams, processing them at a plant in Grand Bank.

Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced in September a new licence will be part of the fishery, and 25 per cent of the quota would be allocated to the new entrant — to be an Indigenous entry based in Atlantic Canada or Quebec. In response, Indigenous groups established business partnerships and matched up with existing industry players to go after the quota.

As announced Feb. 21, the award went to Five Nations Clam Company — a new entity “made up of First Nations from Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.”

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