Newfoundland and Labrador calls on Ottawa to quash surf clam fishing licence

The Newfoundland and Labrador government is demanding Ottawa reverse its decision to award a lucrative Arctic surf clam fishing licence to a Nova Scotia company that says it has Indigenous partners from every Atlantic province and Quebec.

Newfoundland Fisheries Minister Gerry Byrne says the Five Nations Clam Company does not have any Indigenous partners from Newfoundland and Labrador, despite a federal statement that claims otherwise.

Byrne says Innu leaders in Labrador have told him they were approached about forming a partnership with the company after federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc awarded the licence on Feb. 21.

The company, which is working with the Premium Seafoods Group in Arichat, N.S., has not named the other four Indigenous partners and it did not return calls Friday seeking reaction to Byrne's allegation.

A spokesman for LeBlanc said the federal minister was not available for comment.

When LeBlanc awarded the licence, he said the move was aimed at creating social and economic benefits for Indigenous groups and advancing reconciliation.

Byrne says the rules weren't followed and the dispute has pitted province against province, leaving bitter feelings between Indigenous groups.

Eight groups competed for the licence, including the Qalipu First Nation in Newfoundland.