The development of Nunavut fisheries is of paramount importance to AFA. As a result AFA invests significant levels of its revenues in the investigation of ways to improve capacity and build opportunities to advance the economic benefits to Nunavummiut.
Using the profits obtained from its fishery AFA has identified several developmental goals. These goals include (1) Increasing Inuit employment and capacity; (2) Develop an offloading port in Qikiqtarjuaq; (3) Develop an inshore fishery around Grise Fiord, Qikiqtarjuaq, Arctic Bay and Resolute Bay (the four communities involved in the Arctic Fishery Alliance Partnership); and (4) Develop other fisheries projects.
Qikiqtarjuaq Port Feasibility Study
In 2012, with support from the Government of Nunavut Department of Environment Fisheries and Sealing division a feasibility study was conducted to identify the potential of establishing an offloading facility in Qikiqtarjuaq.
The purpose of the report was to investigate the feasibility of establishing a multipurpose offloading/harbor facility in Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut. Specifically, the following topics were addressed:
The economic feasibility of a harbor development in Qikiqtarjuaq;
Assessment of the economic advantages and the current socio-economic losses (employment, revenues, etc.) to Nunavut and Canada of not having an accessible port for offloading, refueling, crew transfers, etc.;
Evaluation of the economic advantages to the Nunavut and Atlantic Canadian (Southern) fishing industry of having a major harbor development in Qikiqtarjuaq;
Research other potential users (DND, Canadian Coast Guard and sea lift vessels etc.);
Review of the operations of similar ports in Greenland and Newfoundland to better understand the operational requirements; and
Explore potential transport savings.
Coastal Vessel Feasibility Report
Throughout 2012, AFA along with the Government of Nunavut Fisheries and Sealing Division commissioned a feasibility study, examining the viability of using a refrigerated coastal vessel to support the Nunavut offshore fixed gear turbot fishery. Specifically, the study investigated the potential for time and cost savings for the fleet, projected operating costs of such a vessel and other benefits for Northern communities (reduced shipping costs on goods). The study compared the costs and benefits of using a refrigerated coastal vessel unloading in a Nunavut harbour, Qikiqtarjuaq, to the present practice of landing in a Greenland harbor, such as Nuuk and Sisimiut. Based on the results of the pre-feasibility study AFA developed a proposal to test the concept through a pilot project. The pilot project was completed during the 2013 turbot fishery using the Kiviuq.
The Kiviuq, acting as the collector vessel was loaded with goods in St. John’s, Newfoundland to be delivered to two of AFA‘s member communities. Following delivery of the goods the Kiviuq met the Suvak in Qikiqtarjuaq harbour and offloaded 80MT of Turbot that was then transported to St. John’s for shipment to market. This saved the Suvak from having to steam into Nuuk to be offloaded.
In 2013, AFA conducted two exploratory fisheries for turbot off Broughton Island and in Jones Sound. The exploratory fisheries were a collaboration between AFA, CanNor, National Research Center and the Government of Nunavut. An aggregation of turbot was located to the east and southeast of Broughton Island between 25 and 50 nmi offshore at depths of 300 to 700 fathoms. This suggested there may be the potential for a small vessel local turbot fishery based in Qikiqtarjuaq. During this research cruise, 19 residents from Grise Fiord and Qikiqtarjuaq were hired by AFA to assist in the exploratory fishery and at-sea transfer.
AFA expanded the scope of its exploratory fisheries and partnered with researchers from Memorial University’s Marine Institute in 2014. Funding was provided by AFA, CanNor, the Government of Nunavut, and Oceans North. Exploratory fisheries were conducted in Jones Sound, near Grise Fiord as well as off Broughton Island near Qikiqtarjuaq Physical oceanography data and plankton samples were also collected. During this research cruise, 10 residents from Grise Fiord and Qikiqtarjuaq were hired by AFA to assist in the exploratory fishery.
The preliminary results of the exploratory fisheries suggest several promising avenues for inshore fisheries development that have the potential to increase local food security and promote economic growth within the communities. Whelk pots in both communities caught three species of coldwater shrimp as well as whelk. On numerous occasions, these traps yielded hundreds of shrimp and whelks. Whelk pots are not designed to capture shrimp, so the potential for harvesting this species is likely greater using the correct equipment.
Based on the success of the research cruises in 2013 and 2014, AFA will conduct a five year multi-disciplinary Nunavut marine research agenda that will begin in the summer of 2015. This program will be designed to contribute to the economic development and food security of Nunavut as well as improve the scientific understanding of the region. It is AFA’s intent to utilize the Kiviuq 1 as the research platform. In 2015, the focus is on conducting exploratory fisheries for turbot, shrimp and whelk in Arctic Bay and Resolute Bay. At the same time, baseline oceanographic data will be collected. AFA has partnered with Marine Institute researchers to conduct this research. The potential to reduce shark by-catch through turbot pots will also be investigated near Broughton Island. Finally, Ocean Tracking Network scientists will be using the Kiviuq as a platform to retrieve and redeploy acoustic monitors to track the migration of turbot in Nunavut.