The NWT Fishermen’s Federation has been offered a free boat.
At the federation’s spring meeting on May 4, a representative of the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation offered to give away the vessel Tamiko Lee Ann, which has been out of the water for over 10 years.
“If the fishermen’s federation or a group of fishermen wants to take it, we’re willing to transfer it over – as long as it stays in the fishery – at no cost. So just take the boat and use it. It’s yours,” said Jason Grabowski, director of field operations for the NWT and western Saskatchewan with the marketing corporation.
Grabowski noted the marketing corporation has been receiving offers of around $40,000 for the vessel from people outside the fishery.
Stacy Linington, president of the Fishermen’s Federation, said it would take the offer into consideration.
“We’re not not interested, but we’ve got to make sure we’ve got our ducks in a row before we could make a decision on that,” he said.
Linington explained there is a lot to consider, including getting the vessel certified and finding a crew for it.
Following the meeting, Grabowski told The Hub that the vessel – which is currently on land at Fisherman’s Wharf – once transported fish from various sites on Great Slave Lake.
Linington told The Hub the federation would take the vessel since it would be an asset to the industry.
“We’ve just got to figure out how to do it and make it make sense,” he said.
The Tamiko Lee Ann was just one of many issues discussed at the spring meeting.
Other issues included prices for fish, funding, supplies, training and much more.
Linington said the most important issue is access points for fishers on Great Slave Lake.
The federation president noted Hay River’s Fisherman’s Wharf is currently the only commercial fishing dock on Great Slave Lake.
“The fish plant is of utmost importance, but for the overall revitalization strategy the access points are huge,” he said. “They’re very, very necessary to get the full utilization of the resources.”
Linington noted fishers in Yellowknife are using a public dock.
“And it’s a lot of trouble for them to use a public dock,” he said. “They’re not allowed to park their boats there and leave their boats there. It’s not a friendly environment.”
Linington added there are only a few places on Great Slave Lake that would make sense for commercial docks.
“The way the lake is and the way the economics are, it doesn’t do you any good to have a dock where there isn’t road access,” he said. “So right now we’ve got road access at Yellowknife, we’ve got road access at Fort Res and we’ve got road access at Hay River. Start with those three. If we can get those three, then we can manage the fishery. The rest of our whole revitalization strategy is built around having those three access points.”
Such docks are the responsibility of the Small Craft Harbours Division of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Linington pointed out Lake Winnipeg has got 40 harbours for its commercial fishery, compared to the one on Great Slave Lake.
The federation president also noted he is on the national board of the Small Craft Harbours Division, and has been working for years to get more access points on Great Slave Lake.
Among the other things discussed at the spring meeting, Linington said that for the upcoming fishing season he plans to be available at the fish plant every Thursday from about 4 to 6 p.m. to meet with fishermen and discuss their concerns and ideas.
“It’s important for everybody to be able to talk about things, not just with me but with each other, too, and keep everybody as informed as best we can,” said the federation president.