The GNWT has decided to proceed with building a new fish plant in Hay River.
Speaking in the territorial legislature on Oct. 20, Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann noted that there is $1.4 million in the budget for a new fish plant and it is moving forward.
After discussion with the federal Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation and fishers in Hay River, Schumann said it was decided the GNWT will proceed with the building.
“Some of those reasons was the lack of access to capital and long stability for the industry,” he said. “We believe that it is in the best interest of the fishing federation or for the fishermen in Hay River that we move forward with the plan. The Department of Infrastructure has actually taken a lead of this plant now in the last week or so. We have identified land within the community of Hay River that we want to do and it is in program and design phase right now.”
The minister said it is hoped that the government will be able to break ground in the spring.
“I suspect construction will probably take at least a year for a facility that size,” he said.
Schumann was responding to questions from Hay River North MLA R.J. Simpson, who asked for an update on plans for a new fish plant.
Noting that the the fishery revitalization strategy called for a contribution to the fishermen’s federation and that they would own a plant, Simpson asked about the federation’s role in ownership and operation of the new plant.
Schumann replied the government worked very closely with the Fishermen’s Federation.
“Moving forward, it is agreed by both parties that the Government of the Northwest Territories would own the facility,” he said.
Simpson asked the minister if there will be both primary and secondary processing in the new fish plant.
Schumann said the new plant will do exactly what the marketing corporation did at the existing plant – primary sourcing of fish, cutting up round, and filleting.
“As far as doing secondary processing, that is going to be entirely up to what Freshwater wants to do moving forward,” he said.
Simpson noted that earlier this year the federal government commissioned a study on the future of the marketing corporation and the people conducting the study came to the NWT to speak to the territorial government and fishers.
“Because the NWT is the last territory or province legally obliged to deal with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, I have a feeling that our input played quite a big role in this,” said the MLA. “I was told that this report would be ready by the fall. I would like to ask the minister if we can get some details about what that report said.”
Schumann, who is also the minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, and the MLA for Hay River South, said the GNWT has not received a report, but it is expected soon.
“My understanding in talking with the federal government on this report coming forward is that there is some sensitive information there that we might not be able to share publicly,” he said. “But I believe, whatever we can share publicly, we will be able to do that.”