There's a huge fight over lobster fishing in Nova Scotia right now
Lobster fishing in Nova Scotia is causing all sorts of chaos this week after non-Indigenous fishermen started removing lobster traps set by the Sipekne'katik First Nation.
Colin Sproul of the Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association told the Canadian Press that the fishermen are taking action on what they believe is illegal, out-of-season fishing. He also blamed the federal government for what was happening.
The Sipekne’katik First Nation launched its moderate livelihood fishery on Thursday in Saulnierville, a three-hour drive west of Halifax. The days since have been marked by threats, flares fired at Mi’kmaw boats, as well as damage to trap lines.— APTN News (@APTNNews) September 20, 2020
Photos: @angelharksen @TrinaRoache pic.twitter.com/0ewKuef09s
"When we are forced into this kind of position it’s really indicative of how out of touch the government is with the situation down here in Atlantic Canada," he said.
"All of our members have been instructed not to engage with any Indigenous people or any types of violent acts. We are just looking to remain peaceful."
Sipekne’katik First Nation fishers are being harassed and fishing equipment has been vandalized by non-Indigenous commercial fish harvesters. Fishing is their livelihood.— pizza parlor cowboy ✨ (@artoftempesta) September 21, 2020
Help Nova Scotia Natives Keep Their Right to Fish - Sign the Petition! https://t.co/VKXFzF2ar6 via @Change
However, the Sipekne'katik First Nation says that they have treaty right to fish at any time since the Supreme Court of Canada decided 21 years ago that Donald Marshall Jr. had the right to fish where and when he wanted without a license.
An historic moment. The first lobster caught in Sipekne’katik FN’s moderate livelihood fishery. The traps were cut, Mi’kmaq are dragging for traps. Most are lost. But finally success @APTNNews #TreatyRights pic.twitter.com/8KkQilaSRt— Trina Roache (@TrinaRoache) September 19, 2020
"No responsible person can legitimately argue that the Mi'kmaq right to fish for a moderate livelihood or that the right to sell that catch commercially does not exist," Sipekne'katik First Nation said in a media release.
Late last week, the Sipekne'Katik First Nation launched its own self-managed lobster fishery to mark the 21-year anniversary of the right of Indigenous groups in Eastern Canada to hunt and fish for a moderate livelihood.
Sipekne'katik fisherman coming back to the wharf after a brief outing this morning. Non-native fisherman still following around them. Overall a quiet morning still. pic.twitter.com/TejntEXlJP— Amber Bernard (@amberblueskye) September 21, 2020
On Friday, though, tension mounted as confrontations between non-Indigenous fishermen and the Sipekne'katik First Nations grew violent. Two people are facing assault charges after being arrested later that day.
RCMP in Nova Scotia released a statement on Twitter, saying that they are present and monitoring the situation.
Images and videos shared on social media, though, show a large number of fishermen gathered at the wharf.
More verbal confrontations, RCMP try to defuse. pic.twitter.com/il4XFeIAuz— Ross Lord (@rlordglobal) September 18, 2020
This prompted Indigenous fishermen to set up a blockade of ropes and lobster traps at the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S. on Saturday.
Earlier this week, Indigenous fishermen alleged that ropes securing some lobster traps had been cut.
Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack said in a statement on Sunday morning that even more had been damaged. He also said that he had a "positive" meeting with the Department of Fisheries and Ocean.
Please see my new statement on the ongoing tensions in Nova Scotia fisheries. pic.twitter.com/qw9e9H3I0m— Bernadette Jordan (@BernJordanMP) September 18, 2020
“The minister was very concerned about the vandalism and acts of aggression that have taken place and expressed her support in taking all measures necessary to protect our people as we continue to exercise our constitutional right to fish for a moderate livelihood," Sack is quoting as saying in a press release.
Here is a statement from Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack. He says he is alarmed by dangerous intimidation tactics in an ongoing fishing dispute pic.twitter.com/AddmMl8V3B— Natasha Pace (@NatashaPace) September 21, 2020
"To see these off-season commercial fishermen come out with dozens of multimillion dollar boats and boast publicly about cutting every single one of our lines, falsely in the name of conservation, is shameful and un-Canadian in our experience," he continued in a statement on Monday.
Join the conversation Load comments