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Fishermen say they are removing Indigenous lobster traps in western Nova Scotia

Members of the Sipekne'katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. The First Nation says a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada ruling, known as the Marshall decision, granted the Mi'kmaq the right to catch and sell lobster outside of the regular fishing season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

SAULNIERVILLE, N.S. — Non-Indigenous fishermen say they are in the process of removing lobster traps set by fishermen from the Sipekne’katik First Nation in waters off western Nova Scotia.

Colin Sproul, of the Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association, says a large number of boats are in St. Marys Bay and intend to remove the traps and take them to the wharf in Meteghan, N.S.

Sproul says the fishermen are taking action on what they believe is an illegal out-of-season fishery because the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has refused to do so.

But the Sipekne’katik First Nation says its people have a treaty right to fish at any time.

Indigenous fishermen set up a set up a blockade of rope and lobster traps at each end of the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., on Saturday in what they called a security measure.

RCMP arrested two people on assault charges at the wharf in Weymouth, N.S., on Friday following reports of ugly confrontations over the First Nation’s lobster fishing operation.


Indigenous fishermen set their traps Thursday, 21 years after the Supreme Court of Canada decided Donald Marshall Jr. had a treaty right to fish for eels when and where he wanted — without a licence.

A clarification was issued two months later by the court, which said the treaty right was subject to federal regulation.

Non-Indigenous fishermen in western Nova Scotia say the court’s clarification is key to understanding why they oppose a self-regulated Indigenous lobster fishery that is not subject to federal regulations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2020.



The Canadian Press