Turbot Ice Fishery to provide high quality protein to Pond Inlet, Clyde River

Local Inuit fishermen in Pond Inlet and Clyde River are harvesting Greenland Halibut through the ice near their communities to add a healthy, sustainable, local source of protein to the food supply.

Working closely with Baffin Fisheries, the Mittimatalik HTA in Pond Inlet, and the Nangmautaq HTA in Clyde River, had plans to harvest turbot under an exploratory DFO licence and sell it commercially. However, travel restrictions and business shut-downs related to COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to export product in 2020.

Instead, Baffin Fisheries is buying the turbot from local fishermen and distributing in the community for free. Baffin Fisheries is receiving support for its inshore fishery development project from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, and the Government of Nuanvut, Fishing and Sealing Division. 

“We are having pretty good success fishing this year,” said Pond Inlet fisherman and Baffin Fisheries Vice Chairman Leo Maktar. “Several fishermen have gone out on the ice and brought back a few hundred pounds each.” 

Once travel and business restrictions are lifted next year, Baffin Fisheries will work with the local HTAs to inspect, package, freeze, and ship the product to market through its existing product distribution channels. Turbot will still be available for local consumption, as dictated by demand.

The turbot fisheries in Pond Inlet and Clyde River will be small-scale operations in the first couple of years of operation as the business gets underway. Processing will take place in new community freezers in both communities. Under its inshore fisheries development program Baffin Fisheries is helping provide safe-food handling training, fishing equipment, logistics, and administrative support to get the business off the ground.

“Ultimately it is the Inuit fishermen in the communities who will make this industry grow,” said Baffin Fisheries CEO Chris Flanagan. “They are the ones venturing out on the ice, cutting holes through six feet of ice, and hauling up turbot from hundreds of meters below the surface. That’s the real challenge.”

Any fishermen in the communities interested in harvesting and selling turbot caught through the ice should contact the HTA in Pond Inlet or Clyde River.   

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