As of Monday, 50 per cent of Clearwater Seafood has been acquired by a coalition, which includes Membertou First Nation, their new business partner Premium Brands, and a number of participating Mi’kmaq communities across Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.
Founded in 1976, Clearwater Seafood is one of North America’s largest seafood companies and is the largest holder of shellfish licences and quotas in Canada.
This transaction means the Mi’kmaq not only become 50 per cent owners of the company, but expect to hold Clearwater’s Canadian fishing licences within a fully Mi’kmaq-owned partnership.
“This is a transformational opportunity for the Mi’kmaq to become significant participants in the commercial fishery through the investment in existing infrastructure, management expertise, and a global market presence,” said Chief Terry Paul of Membertou First Nation in a press release.
“This collective investment by First Nations in Clearwater represents the single largest investment in the seafood industry by any Indigenous group in Canada,” he added.
According to Chief Paul, Paqtnkek, Pictou Landing, Potlotek Sipekne’katik, and We’koqma’q have participated with Membertou and Miawpukek in this investment.
Membertou First Nation said in a statement that the collective of communities has financed $250 million over 30 years through working with their partners at First Nations Finance Authority.
“This investment is unique and separate from our current commercial operations and does not financially impact Membertou’s ability to continue providing all the services necessary for our growing community in any way,” the statement reads.
The statement also notes that all the benefits of the ownership will flow back to the communities.
“I am very pleased to recommend this transaction. It represents great value for shareholders, leverages the expertise within the company while advancing Reconciliation in Canada,” said Colin MacDonald, chair of the board of directors of Clearwater, in a press release.
“I am confident that this transaction will enhance the culture of diversity and sustainable seafood excellence that exists at Clearwater,” he added.
In a statement, Membertou First Nation said that this commercial acquisition is separate from both their moderate livelihood fishery and their commercial in-shore fishery operations.
“With this acquisition we are participants in all sectors of the fishery,” the statement reads.
Global has reached out to Membertou First Nations’ spokesperson and Chief Terry Paul, but did not get an immediate response.