According to a news release issued by the town late Friday, a tentative deal is in place with Cooke Clam Group to process the species at the former High Liner Foods processing plant. The town recently acquired the facility from High Liner.
Whether that happens, however, depends on whether the Cooke is approved for a clam-harvesting licence.
In July, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced the total allowable catch (TAC) for Artic surf clams would be increased from 38,756 tonnes to 52,655 tonnes on the Banquereau Bank and Grand Banks starting with the 2016 fishery.
The decision was made by former fisheries minister Gail Shea based upon the advice of DFO scientists. The deadline for applications was in early October, just prior to the recent federal election, which resulted in a changeover from a Conservative to Liberal government.
“We fully support the Cooke Clam Group’s submission and want to bring the processing jobs to the people of our town,” Mayor Kevin Lundrigan said in the release.
Cooke Clam Group’s proposal is expected to generate roughly a hundred jobs in the region, at sea and on land, the news release stated.
The company is a Canadian-owned business venture between Cooke Seafood Inc., Brian McNamara and Miawpukek First Nation.
The Town of Grand Bank has also submitted an application to DFO for a licence of its own.
The only quota holder for Arctic surf clams is Clearwater Seafoods. The Nova Scotia-based company processes the clams at its plant in Grand Bank.
Grand Bank town council has expressed concern over the potential impact of new entrants into the Arctic surf clam fishery on Clearwater’s operation in the town.
Lundrigan said Cooke Clam Group approached the Town of Burin about negotiating an operating lease for the former fish plant.
“Our council has agreed that if the group is successful in securing a new clam-harvesting licence from DFO, we will finalize a deal for the onshore processing of these clams,” he said.
“This deal is a good fit for us and is a much-needed opportunity for our people. We urge Minister Tootoo to follow the advice of his science department and allow new access to the Arctic surf clam fishery.”