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Clearwater Seafoods deal goes through

Clearwater Seafoods Inc. is Atlantic Canada’s largest wild seafood company.
Clearwater Seafoods Inc. is Atlantic Canada’s largest wild seafood company. - CNW Group/Clearwater Seafoods Inc.

Atlantic Canadian First Nations become more prominent in fishing industry

Seven Atlantic Canadian First Nations have become even bigger players in the fishing industry.

The half-billion dollar sale of Clearwater at $8.25 per share to Premium Brands Holding Corporation and FNC Limited Partnership (representing Membertou, Miawpukek, Sipekne’katik, We’koqma’q, Potlotek, Pictou Landing and Paqtnkek) for the purchase of Clearwater Seafoods became official on Monday.

Under its terms, FNC Ltd., via a numbered company, will take full ownership of Clearwater’s extensive fishing quotas.

Those total 48 million kilograms of surf clams, 3.9 million kilograms of offshore shrimp, 2.7 million kilograms of groundfish, 2.8 million kilograms of scallops, 720,000 kilograms of lobster and 270,000 kilograms of jonah crab.

“I was talking to (Membertou Chief Terry) Paul and I said, ‘I don’t know why we’re going after crumbs when we can buy the whole thing outright,” said Miawpukek Chief Misel Joe on Monday of the conversation that led to the Clearwater purchase.

Negotiations for the deal were led by Paul and Joe.

The $250 million to pay for their half of the purchase constituted the single biggest loan from the First Nation Financing Authority since its creation by Parliament in 2005.

The British Columbia-based First Nations-run non-profit issues debentures to provide loans at competitive interest rates to First Nations for infrastructure and economic development projects.

Joe said the status quo will be maintained for management at Clearwater. In the longer term, however, he sees employment opportunities for his people.

“Right now, we are building a future for our communities; our young people will be able to be trained to fill some of those jobs in the offshore,” said Joe.

With the new ownership, trading will cease on Clearwater stock on Tuesday.

Colin MacDonald, chair of Clearwater’s board of directors, said shareholders welcomed the deal.

“I’m proud of this deal and confident it will enhance the culture of diversity and sustainable seafood excellence that Clearwater is known for,” said McDonald in a news release.

“I’m proud to turn over the legacy of the company in Atlantic Canada to new ownership and the existing management team.”

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