Partnering with Vancouver-based Premium Brands Holdings Corporation, a number of Mi’kmaq communities will put up C$250m (£145m) for their share of the purchase. The Mi’kmaq will have full ownership of Clearwater’s coveted offshore fishing licences, which allow the harvest of lobster, scallop, crab and clams in a massive tract of ocean known as LFA 41. They also plan to bring more Indigenous peoples into the company’s ranks.
For decades, Clearwater has been a giant in the industry, with a monopoly on offshore fishing licences, which allow for year-round lobster harvest. But as of last year, amid lagging performance, the company signalled it was looking for a buyer. The Membertou First Nation, based in the Cape Breton region, had previously shown an interest in expanding its reach into the commercial industry, when it paid Clearwater C$25m (£14.5m) for two of the company’s eight licences in September.
“In order to be in business, you first have to play the game,” Paul told CBC News after the purchase was announced. “You have to play to win, and we won.”
In addition to Membertou and Miawpukek supporting the deal, a number of other groups in the region, including the Paqtnkek, Pictou Landing, Potlotek, Sipekne’katik and We’koqma’q First Nations, have also expressed an interest in acquiring a stake in Clearwater.