The Freshwater Fish Marketing Corp. is making promotional videos of its operation even as it sinks into debt at a time when fish prices have skyrocketed.
Making movies instead of profits makes no sense; nor does a finding that it has not addressed conflict of interest issues.
But that's the state of affairs, all evidence that the fish corporation and its board of directors should be sent packing.
The FFMC is losing money at an unprecedented rate. It recently posted its third-quarter results showing losses of $718,000. To illustrate how bad that is, the difference from the third quarter this year and third quarter last year is almost $3 million. And the fourth quarter, always its worst, is yet to come.
Meanwhile, a Jan. 13 report by the Office of the Auditor General noted that "potential conflicts of interest on the part of board members are not well managed." Further, it found that the board has taken "no action" to correct this problem.
In one instance the AG found a conflict of interest when the board paid its former president and CEO'S thousands of dollars over and above his already gold plated retirement package.
With the FFMC sinking in sea of red ink and with its moral compass swinging, someone at the corporation decided that the proper response would be to make a movie to burnish a tarnished image. The president and CEO stars in one video. It is impossible to say whether it is vanity or if he seriously believes the video could help improve FFMC's image. On the other hand it's easy to see the board should focus on marketing fish and not making videos. (Video can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?vrdjbg-HksUM.)
It is hard to comprehend how FFMC could be losing so much money when market conditions couldn't be better. It certainly isn't due to selling fish to our largest market, the United States. Pickerel currently is selling in Minneapolis for $22.99 a pound. The fish board pays fishermen about $2 a pound. With those margins, you might think the FFMC would be making money, not losing it. Meanwhile, whitefish has been selling at record high prices and other species are in great demand.
One reason for high demand for Manitoba fish is the contamination of pickerel and northern pike stocks in the Northwestern Ontario fishery. Commercial fishermen there are forbidden to sell their large pickerel and northern pike due to elevated mercury levels. Yikes, I swim in that water.
After 40 years, it is time to return all aspects of this industry back to the fishermen that rely upon it to make a living. It is time for the government to get out of the fish business.
Kim Sigurdson is CEO of
Aboriginal Cogeneration Corp.