The owner of the Barry Group of Cos. has signed a deal with the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band to harvest and process ocean perch fished off the coast of western Newfoundland.
According to Barry, the juvenile biomass of ocean perch is currently at about 2.5 million tonnes and the fishable stock is expected to be about five or six million tonnes by the time his company is ready to harvest it.
“It’s the biggest fisheries recovery of any individual stock maybe in the history of Canada,” Barry said.
The plan is to work toward the Qalipu band based in Corner Brook being allocated a quota of the red fish that hasn’t been harvested in the area for the last quarter of a century or so.
The quota is not expected to be allocated until 2019. Barry said his company will invest $20 million in the project, which will include establishing ocean perch processing plants facilities in Humber Arm South and in Port aux Basques by the time the quotas are granted.
Barry said there will be an extension built onto the existing Allen’s Fisheries plant in Benoit’s Cove, which his company recently purchased. The plant in Port aux Basques is already capable of processing perch.
The fishmeal plant in Burgeo will process the offal.
Qalipu will get revenue royalties from the harvesting and processing. The strategy includes eventually developing a Qalipu brand of ocean perch products.
Barry said the venture will create hundreds of jobs during the construction phase, in addition to the harvesting and processing components, from Anchor Point on the Northern Peninsula to Burgeo on the southwest coast.
There used to be 14 perch plants and nine fishmeal plants handling the offal. They are now all gone, except for the fishmeal pant in Burgeo.
Barry said the company decided to partner with Qalipu, as the federal government has said it will support Indigenous groups having access to traditional resources. He said the business deal will benefit the entire west coast economy and not just the Mi’kmaq community.
“To me, it’s a great opportunity for our community on the west coast of Newfoundland to come together and help build a future in the fishery that can be better than in the past,” said Barry.
What was said:
Bill Barry, chairman and chief executive officer of the Barry Group of Cos.:
“The future on this stock alone is a 30- or 35-year deal. I’ve never been as pumped about the recovery of a specific stock in all of my entire life.”
Qalipu Chief Brendan Mitchell:
“This is a positive thing for us and, when I think of who our partners are, I can’t think of a better partner to do something positive together.”
Humber Arm South Mayor Art Mitchell:
“Today in Humber Arm South we are writing a new chapter in the storied history of the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. … This announcement will not only allow our town to grow and prosper, but will also secure jobs and meaningful employment for our people and others from the region of the west coast.”
Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc:
“The Qalipu First Nation is an example of the kind of partnership that our government is looking very, very much to validate.”
Premier Dwight Ball:
“This union is about a bold and courageous activity. It’s about someone looking into the future and anticipating what is coming at them, then doing what business leaders will do, which is prepare. That’s what visionaries are all about and what we see here in this union between the Qalipu and Bill Barry and his group of companies. … This is not about a personal legacy for Bill Barry or for Chief Mitchell. This is about legacies for families in our province.”