A Mi’kmaq community is further delaying plans for a lobster harvest that was set to start this week off southwestern Nova Scotia, saying the band will have to set up its own security to protect its traps.
Chief Mike Sack of Sipekne’katik First Nation said today the band is also concerned about the safety of its fishers after violence erupted last fall when fishers from the community set traps in St. Marys Bay.
Last week, Sack had said the band would scale back a plan for a “moderate livelihood” fishery of 50 traps per boat originally set to begin on June 1, instead proposing a food fishery with just five traps per person.
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The Mi’kmaq First Nation has argued it has the right to fish for a moderate livelihood when and where members wish, based on a landmark 1999 Supreme Court decision. The court later clarified that ruling to say Ottawa could regulate the treaty right for conservation and other limited purposes.
Federal Fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan has said she’s attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate a moderate livelihood fishery with Sipekne’katik where the bands’ fishers would have access to lobster grounds within a federally regulated season in a neighbouring lobster area.
However, Sack said in an interview Wednesday the offer of licences on fishing grounds south of St. Marys Bay didn’t provide enough access, and the smaller boats the band operates aren’t suited to the more open waters.
© 2021 The Canadian Press