Clearwater racing to harvest all of restored surf clam quota

Clearwater Seafoods appears on track to catch most, if not all, of the valuable surf clam quota recently restored to the company by the Trudeau government.

"We are currently harvesting that quota and will work until the end of the year to get that quota out of the water," Clearwater vice-president Christine Penney told a media conference call after the company released its third-quarter results.

"Our projections are that we will come very close to harvesting that full 25 per cent."

Lucrative seafood

For nearly 20 years, the Halifax-based seafood company held a monopoly on the surf clam fishery it pioneered off Cape Breton and Newfoundland.

The bright red meat is sold as sushi in Asia and has been a top earner for Clearwater with revenues topping $100 million in 2017.

Earlier this year, 25 percent of the surf clam quota — 8,940 tonnes — was taken away by the federal government and awarded to an Indigenous enterprise based in New Brunswick and its industry partner, Premium Seafoods of Arichat, N.S.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans quietly cancelled the award in July.

Robert Short/CBC

Clearwater said it will compete for the quota as it did in 2017 when it submitted a failed bid with Nova Mi'kmaq.

The company also said it is using its new $70-million clam vessel, the Anne Risley.

Clearwater took possession of the specially designed factory freezer trawler in late 2017, shortly before it lost its surf clam monopoly.

The company reported overall third-quarter sales were up this year to $164 million.