Indigenous fishing boats land 100,000 pounds of lobster from Nova Scotia bay

Chief Mike Sack of the Sipekne'katik First Nation says 900 licensed commercial fishing boats working the same area are expected to trap 90 million pounds of lobster between Nov. 30 and May 31.

HALIFAX — The Indigenous band at the centre of a dispute over fishing in southwestern Nova Scotia confirmed today it had landed 100,000 pounds of lobster since the First Nation started its moderate livelihood fishery on Sept. 17.

Chief Mike Sack of the Sipekne'katik First Nation issued a statement saying that amount represents a tiny fraction of what commercial fishing boats will haul in from the much larger lobster fishing area known as LFA 34, which opens for commercial lobster fishing on Nov. 30.

Sack says 900 licensed commercial fishing boats working in LFA 34 are expected to trap 90 million pounds of lobster between Nov. 30 and May 31, with each boat carrying between 375 and 400 traps.

The chief says the numbers make it clear that the moderate livelihood fishery, which is operating outside the federally regulated season, does not pose a threat to conservation of lobster stocks.

Sack says federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan has ignored the band's request for a meeting, which has left the First Nation feeling frustrated.

Indigenous bands in the Maritimes and eastern Quebec say a Supreme Court of Canada ruling in 1999 affirmed their right to hunt, fish and gather when and where they want to earn a "moderate livelihood."

But a subsequent clarification from the court said Ottawa retains the right to regulate the fisheries for conservation purposes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 18, 2020

The Canadian Press

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