Inuit in Nunavut have traditionally relied on marine resources as a significant part of their subsistence diet. Prior to 2000, small-scale exploratory turbot fishery was developed, and in 2000, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced that the starting in 2001, the fishery in the region would be managed as a separate unit. Nunavut would receive the exploratory quota designated for area 0A, 3,500-tonnes.

In response to the announcement of the Nunavut area and quota designation and in order to maximize the benefit of the resource for Nunavummiut, local Hunting and Trapping Associations partnered with experienced private industry members. Baffin Fisheries Coalition (Baffin Fisheries) was formed in 2000, consisting of five Hunters and Trappers Associations on Baffin Island and four private businesses. The primary goal of Baffin Fisheries has been to develop the capacity and infrastructure required for a stable turbot fishery in the region.

Transition to Self-Sufficiency

Initially, fishing operations by Baffin Fisheries were conducted through partnerships with private firms in exchange for a royalty. Recognizing that the intent of the initial allocation was to provide Nunavut the opportunity to develop a self-sufficient fishing industry, Baffin Fisheries transitioned away from these partnerships into vessel owners themselves. Niqitaq Fisheries Ltd. (NFL) was incorporated in 2003 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Baffin Fisheries to help achieve this goal of transition and self-sufficiency. NFL’s primary role is the ownership, management, and operation of vessels.

In 2005, Baffin Fisheries (through its subsidiary NFL) incorporated two new companies: Oujukoaq Fisheries Ltd. (OFL) and Inuksuk Fisheries Ltd. (IFL) to gain a majority interest in two large factory freezer harvesting vessels, the fixed gear vessel Sikuvut and the Inuksuk.

In 2011, the five Hunting and Trapping Associations of Baffin Island took over full ownership of Baffin Fisheries.  To further develop capacity and maximise the benefit of the resource, Arluk II Fisheries Ltd. was incorporated as a wholly-owned subsidiary and was responsible for the purchase and refit of the fixed gear factory freezer harvesting vessel the Arluk II. In 2012, Baffin Fisheries purchased the minority shares in OFL, transitioning from partial to whole ownership.

Since 2012, Baffin Fisheries has strived to increase operational transparency and promote stewardship while working toward the development of the fishing industry in Nunavut. Baffin Fisheries recognizes that through sound fiscal management, strategic growth, infrastructure development, and continued expansion, it can position itself as a world-class leader in the fishing industry, from source to market, providing maximum benefit its member organizations, local communities and the people of Nunavut.