Experimental Turbot Fishing Trip
Baffin Fisheries participated in an experimental winter turbot fishing trip in May 2019, and is optimistic it can help develop a small scale commercial fishing operation here to provide income opportunities and a valuable food resources through the winter.
Baffin Fisheries assisted the Mittimatalik HTO secure DFO licensing for up to 25 tonnes of turbot as part of an exploratory ice fishery in Eclipse Sound. Baffin Fisheries provided hooks, lines, motorized winches, and other equipment to assist in the fishery.
The aim of trip was to assess requirements for commercialization of a small turbot fishing business in Pond Inlet. The team reviewed: ice drilling, qamutiks, catch rate, bait, processing, and available equipment. Fishing results demonstrated need for further work. The team caught approx. 26 fish over two days. The low catch rates were attributed to experimenting in shallow water, high incidence of skate bycatch, and lack of detailed knowledge of sea floor.
After the trip, Baffin Fisheries obtained more detailed sea floor data and is in the process of incorporating the data into a mapping system.
The goal of the project is to find the optimal location and time for harvest, to obtain enough quantities of turbot, to develop a CFIA-approved processing practices, and to get the finished product to market. Next steps are to develop a better Qamutik-based preparation area, to improve flash-freezing, to pay fishermen for processed turbot at the beach, and to distribute the packaged product. These challenges will be addressed in the coming year, though solutions are likely to take longer.
Baffin Fisheries obtained a reefer container to provide storage for commercial quantities of turbot. The reefer container was shipped to Pond Inlet in August 2019.
Baffin Fisheries continues to explore the opportunity for a small vessel to support inshore longlining from Pond Inlet.
In 2018, BF staff in Pond Inlet successfully rented all available office space in the new office building. Offices were rented to an MLA, Baffinland Mines, and a single office was donated to the SmartIce program, which Baffin Fisheries supports and assists.