Tag Archives: St. Marys Bay

As lobster population booms off Canada, tensions rise between Indigenous and commercial fishermen

Under the close watch of federal officers on surrounding patrol vessels, Robert Sack navigated his old boat toward his clandestine traps in the cold waters that his people have fished for centuries, expecting to be arrested at any moment.,, Each trap had a special tag belonging to their band of the Indigenous Mi’kmaw people, who insist that a 269-year-old treaty grants them the right to fish when and how they want. But the government has rejected their assertion, and officers have seized their traps, confiscated their boats, and even arrested some of their fishermen. >click to read< 07>14

Nova Scotia: Prosecutors add charges for 25 in lobster pound riot

Prosecutors have added more charges against 25 people accused of entering and ransacking a Nova Scotia lobster pound at the centre of a dispute about an Indigenous self-regulated fishery. Crown lawyer Robert Kennedy, however, said in an interview Tuesday the prosecution is willing to discuss “resolutions” for “at least some” of the accused, which would avoid further court proceedings. In January 2021, the RCMP announced that 23 people were facing a charge of break and enter, with eight also charged with mischief, for their roles in the Oct. 14, 2020, incident at the facility in Middle West Pubnico, N.S. >click to read< 14:55

The ‘Lobster Trap’, Part II – Protests and Prayers

When she heard the news, in the middle of her shift selling tickets at the ferry terminal, Cathy Watt broke down in tears. The U.S. government had just ordered the unprecedented closure of a 1,000 square-mile swath of ocean off Maine’s coast to traditional lobster fishing for four months a year, starting in October. It was a crushing consequence of climate change: Warming oceans have hastened an endangered whale’s journey to the brink of extinction, and now Maine fishermen would pay the price. photos, video, part II of a series, >click to read< 09:49  ‘The Lobster Trap’ >click to read<

Indian Brook man charged with allegedly threatening fishery officers in St. Marys Bay

In a news release, RCMP said the fisherman was following a coast guard vessel and came “dangerously close” to the bow. A collision was avoided because of maneuvers made by the captain of the coast guard boat. RCMP said the fisherman then threatened fishery officers who were aboard another boat working in the area. >click to read< 13:04

Sipekne’katik fisherman’s protest dumping of lobster ‘not acceptable,’ chief says

A Sipekne’katik First Nation fisherman who appears in a video showing him dumping crates of banded lobsters into Digby harbour has been rebuked by the band’s chief. In the video, Robert Syliboy objects to a new Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) compliance measure that marks the tail fins of lobster with a paper hole puncher. The hole punch aims to identify lobsters harvested under Indigenous food, social and ceremonial (FSC) licenses in St Mary’s Bay. The conditions of those licenses prevent the sale of the catch. In the video, Syliboy says DFO is harming the lobsters by punching holes in their tail fins. >click to read< 07:39

A year ago violence erupted in the lobster fishery, “moderate livelihood” fishery status unresolved

One year ago, confrontation and violence upended the normally business-like commercial lobster season in St. Mary’s Bay and Lobster Fishing Area 35 in southwest Nova Scotia. Tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishermen in the bay had erupted in several dangerous boat-ramming incidents.,, But a full year later, as the wheels of justice turn ever so slowly, none of those charged have entered a plea. Before we examine how that happened, it’s worth noting some updates in the troubled fishery. >click to read< 10:07

Sipekne’katik concerned about DFO punching holes in FSC lobsters

Fishery officers have been punching the small circular holes as part of a new compliance initiative to track lobsters that Fisheries and Oceans Canada say “will aid in protecting the integrity of the FSC fishery.” It’s illegal to sell lobster harvested under FSC tags. While DFO maintains that punching holes (like V-notch in Me.) in the lobsters’ tails doesn’t harm them, Shy Francis and Shannon Oliver-Sack said they’ve witnessed otherwise. “They said that they’re not doing any damage to these lobsters, but as soon as we pulled them up, it wasn’t long before they started dying on the boat and they were bleeding out,” >click to read< 08:48

Sipekne’katik First Nation’s lobster study to assess impact of summer and fall fishing

The boat, Mamma Ain’t Happy, is owned by Sipekne’katik First Nation and is fishing under food, social, and ceremonial (FSC) tags. The tags are the licence under which the lobster can legally be fished and allow the band to harvest it for those purposes but not to sell it. After each trip, the catch is brought back to the community for lobster giveaways that feed most of the families in the second-largest Mi’kmaw band in Nova Scotia.  But this boat doesn’t just fish for people’s supper. It’s also a data collection site for a study on lobster conservation. >click to read< 13:48

DFO arrests, release 3 connected with last week’s St. Marys Bay lobster shipment seizure

DFO arrested and released three more people in connection with last week’s seizure of a lobster shipment that originated from St. Marys Bay, N.S., where a controversial Mi’kmaw lobster fishery is underway. Last week, DFO said it seized a “significant quantity of lobster,” a vehicle and a trailer in New Brunswick. Two people were arrested and released. The lobsters were released back into the ocean. DFO did not say where or when the three other arrests took place. DFO declined to provide further details because both matters are part of ongoing investigations. >click to read< 22:26

DFO returns patrol boats back to the wharf in Meteghan

After a confusing week for both commercial and aboriginal fishers DFO’s patrol vessels have returned to the wharf in Meteghan. After stories on the move ran in The Chronicle Herald and Globe and Mail, the boats were returned on Sunday. Both commercial and First Nations fishers are glad they are back, though for different reasons. Chief Mike Sack said Friday they wanted a federal presence to prevent a repeat of the violence Sipekne’katik’s fishermen were subject to last fall. Commercial fishermen, meanwhile, want DFO to prevent what they allege is a large scale commercial fishery happening outside their season under the guise of a food, social and ceremonial fishery. “There’s a treaty right but where does it end and where does it begin,” said Nathan Cooke, a buyer who owns Atlantic Canada Seafoods. >click to read< 17:26

DFO is responding to allegations from the Sipekne’katik First Nation

On Thursday, the band said they had lobster traps tagged ‘Food, Social and Ceremonial,’ confiscated by DFO officers in St. Mary’s Bay. DFO says of the 10 traps they seized that day, none had FSC tags, and no vessels were seized. The department says respectful, constructive dialogue is the best way to advance reconciliation, and implement rights-based fisheries. They say their officers take a progressive approach on the water, including education, issuing warnings and laying charges, while using discretion as they take situational factors into consideration. >click to read< 08:36

Grand Chief of Assembly of First Nations tells DFO – ‘Stop criminalizing our treaty rights’

The Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations is calling for an end to what she calls intimidation over the Sipekne’katik First Nation’s lobster fishery. So far this summer, hundreds of traps have been seized from St. Mary’s Bay and Archibald was on a boat that was boarded by DFO officers Thursday afternoon, who then seized the traps of the fisherman she was with. “Two DFO zodiacs with eight enforcement officers encircled and boarded the boat and later traps were pulled, confiscated and loaded onto a Coast Guard boat,” Video >click to read< 19:50

Misinformation Tension – DFO moving fishery officers into area from across Nova Scotia and Canada

Federal fishery officers from across Canada are being moved to southwestern Nova Scotia as tensions rise again over an Indigenous lobster fishery underway in St. Marys Bay. The top enforcement officer at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans blames misinformation for aggravating the situation, asking both Indigenous and commercial fishermen and their supporters, to step back. “What I want to say to people is to give the fishery officers space to do their jobs. They are doing their jobs.,,, McCready said she is worried the dispute is becoming even more polarizing because of misinformation. One recent claim, she said, is that DFO officers “colluded” with commercial fishermen and cut lines on Indigenous-owned vessels. >click to read< 07:18

Sipekne’katik First Nation lobster boats cut loose from a wharf in Nova Scotia.

The chief of the Sipekne’katik First Nation, Mike Sack, issued a statement saying the boats were cast adrift from their berths in Weymouth North, N.S., with the “intent to cause damage and intimidate the community.” Sack says the boats were ready to take part in the band’s food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery, which is regulated by federal rules but is not limited to a particular season. >click to read< 17:53

The Sipekne’katik First Nation has indefinitely postponed the start of a communal lobster fishery

The band said it was concerned for the safety of its fishermen and lacked resources to launch the fishery in St. Marys Bay. “The reality is that we would need to provide our own security and police our own gear getting seized and it feels like a costly prospect for our community after all that we have lost,” Chief Mike Sack said in a news release. The decision to postpone came following an emergency meeting of fishermen at Sipekne’katik on Wednesday morning. >click to read< 14:06

N.S. Mi’kmaq to start season with scaled-down plans, RCMP makes statement on Moderate Livelihood Fishery

A Mi’kmaq community is scaling down plans for a lobster harvest in southwestern Nova Scotia next week, after Ottawa threatened to pull traps that aren’t licensed by the Fisheries Department. Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack told reporters today that instead of pursuing a “moderate livelihood” fishery with up to 50 traps per boat, Indigenous fishers will begin the season by pursuing a food, social and ceremonial fishery. >click to read< , RCMP Make Statement On Upcoming Moderate Livelihood Fishery – RCMP say they will ensure a coordinated, appropriate and measured approach, if required. Resources will be deployed based on operational needs. >click to read< 14:46

As tensions rose during N.S. fisheries dispute, province balked at paying for extra RCMP

The Mounties have faced scrutiny for their handling of the tensions that followed the launch in September of Sipekne’katik First Nation’s self regulated fishery in St. Marys Bay. Critics included federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller who said the force should have done more to protect Mi’kmaw harvesters,,, It’s unclear what impact, if any, the financial approvals had on the RCMP’s staffing plans. “The number and type of RCMP resources that were deployed was based on operational needs,” Cpl. Chris Marshall, an RCMP spokesperson, said in an email. “In order to protect officer and public safety, we don’t discuss our operations, tactics and resources.” >click to read< 07:55

“This is a transformational moment” – Mi’kmaq lead billion-dollar sea change

One of the key differences between the Clearwater deal and the Mi’kmaq moderate-livelihood fishery is that Clearwater held commercial offshore licences, allowing them to fish lobster year-round, while moderate livelihood contends with treaty rights and typically means inshore lobster fishing (within 50 nautical miles from shore). Offshore fishing requires larger boats, more intense training and safety protocols. Last summer, Membertou First Nation purchased two of the offshore licences, and Paul promised then that they would continue to gain access to more seafood markets. Buying out Clearwater, which sold more than $600 million in scallops, clams, rock crab, shrimp and lobster on the global market in 2019, has made the coalition the largest holder of shellfish licences and quotas in Canada. >click to read< 09:38

Ottawa, Mi’kmaq community on collision course over plan for second lobster season

The federal fisheries minister said today that enforcement officers will be in place in St. Mary’s Bay to “uphold the Fisheries Act” if Sipekne’katik fishers harvest lobster beginning on June 1. Bernadette Jordan’s comment came shortly before Chief Mike Sack held a news conference to say his band will operate a five-month season that will occur outside of the commercial season. Sack says the plan envisions 15 to 20 boats setting 1,500 traps, with a midsummer closure during the moulting and reproduction season and its own enforcement officials. >click to read< 14:18

Conserving lobster stocks: Lobster landings data released by DFO show complex picture

Both Mi’kmaw fishers and people who work in the commercial fishing industry say conservation is a key concern. Some in the commercial fishing industry have pointed to declining lobster catches as evidence of potential harm to the fishery. The Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association has said it has concerns about the amount of lobster being landed in St. Marys Bay, which it says has declined 68 per cent since 2016. Fisheries and Oceans Canada released data showing a decline from the record highs in 2015-16. However, an examination of the 18 years of data shows a nuanced picture. >click to read< 08:10

Failed policies, decisions on the fly: How the moderate livelihood fishery file blew up

Documents obtained through a freedom of information request show the federal Fisheries Department knew that 21 years of kicking the moderate livelihood issue down the election cycle had resulted in there being little rule of law on St. Mary’s Bay. The feds knew that the bay had become a pressure cooker as two communities were pitted against one another over a limited resource. When the top blew off, they turned to coming up with new policy on the fly while seeking a daily scorecard on evolving public opinion. “This is about a culture (in Ottawa) that would rather avoid any conflict at all,” said Thomas Isaac, an aboriginal rights lawyer who has served as British Columbia’s chief treaty negotiator,,,>click to read< 13:49

Livelihood lobster fishing cast adrift: How DFO’s inaction has history repeating itself

Its resources are in high demand by Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers alike, and for more than 20 years it has seen tensions between the two communities turn from boil to simmer, to boil again. Recently, it made headlines internationally. Tensions in the area erupted into violence and destruction after the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched its own, self-regulated fishery, outside of the commercial season, based on Mi’kmaq treaty rights. To Alex McDonald, one of the oldest still-fishing Indigenous lobster boat captains of the area, the chaos this year was nothing new. >click to read< 08:14

The Nova Scotia lobster fishery fight – Year in Review

Sept. 17, the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched a self-regulated lobster fishery outside the federally-regulated commercial fishing season. On Sept. 18, two people are arrested on assault charges following confrontations between Mi’kmaq and non-Indigenous fishers on the wharf of the self-regulated fishery in Weymouth, N.S. This was the beginning of a showdown that would spark solidarity rallies across the country. “We all have Indigenous blood. We always worked side by side. The Acadians are not racist. We know they (Indigenous fishers) have rights, but we can’t respect what’s happening in St. Mary’s Bay.  Video, >click to read< 08:29

Why a clash over crustaceans is roiling Canada

It’s a battle about jobs and livelihoods, ethnic identities and cultures, and deeply embedded family and social traditions. Yet it’s also a clash about something else: the future of what was once one of the most fecund fisheries in the world. Both sides recognize they have a shared interest in keeping the industry thriving in a place that has been traumatized by declining fish stocks. This is especially true at a time when the pandemic has temporarily cut off customers for the area’s succulent crustaceans. >click to read< 19:05

‘There’s Death Threats’: Indigenous Fishers Nervous as Nova Scotia’s Commercial Lobster Season Opens

Some Mi’kmaq have fished alongside commercial fishermen on these wharves for years but this year, after violence erupted in the past few months, they’re now divided largely by race—the white Acadian fishermen at Meteghan, and the Mi’kmaq at Saulnierville, with each flying their own flags. A court injunction, sought by the Mi’kmaq, has further separated the two groups, in an effort to prevent any more aggression and harassment towards band members on the Saulnierville wharf and on the water as they continue to fish until Dec. 17, the end of their moderate livelihood plan. The commercial inshore lobster fishery, expected to launch later this week, runs until the end of May. >click to read< 20:37

RCMP: Two charged following alleged incidents in St. Mary’s Bay during fisheries dispute

The charges were laid under the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations for unsafe activity in St. Mary’s Bay near Saulnierville. On Nov. 26, the RCMP charged 34-year-old Brandon Alexander Maloney, of Hants County, for unsafe operation of a vessel in relation to an incident that took place Sept. 20 in St. Mary’s Bay. Maloney was a fisheries manager for Sipekne’katik at the time of the alleged incident. He has since been elected to council and no longer holds that manager position. Also charged is 26-year-old Shaquest India Miller of Yarmouth County, for unsafe operation of a vessel, relating to an Oct. 12 incident, in St. Mary’s Bay. Both are scheduled to appear in Digby Provincial Court on Feb. 15.  >click to read< 17:23

Replenishment, or Misguided Retribution?! Trouble brewing ahead of start to Nova Scotia fall lobster season

The recent seizure of lobster traps in St. Marys Bay by federal officials could lead to big trouble on the water. Chief Mike Sack of the Sipekne’katik First Nation says Indigenous fishers whose traps were taken last weekend and on Wednesday will replace them by taking the traps of commercial fishers when the fall season opens Monday in southwestern Nova Scotia, a huge event known as Dumping Day. “Dumping Day is going to be about 400,000 traps that our people get to pick from to replenish our traps,” Sack said in an interview, referring to the start of Canada’s largest and most lucrative lobster fishery. >video, click to read< 08:02

Tension could rise again on Monday in lobster dispute on east coast – The ongoing dispute between Indigenous and non-native lobster fishers could get tense once again. Last weekend, and on Wednesday, agents from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) seized hundreds of Indigenous lobster traps, ostensibly because the traps were set before the season opens on Monday.. >click to read<

DFO officers seize 500 lobster traps in St. Marys Bay

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says enforcement officers are going back to St. Marys Bay in southwestern Nova Scotia where they seized hundreds of lobster traps on the weekend in an area used by Mi’kmaw fishermen. Todd Somerville, DFO’s director of conservation and protection for the Maritimes, said 500 traps were seized for a variety of violations. “Untagged gear, improperly configured gear, gear that hadn’t been tended in a while. There was gear where dead lobsters were found. Over 6,000 lobsters, live lobsters, were returned,,, >click to read< 18:17

In Search of Common Ground – An interview with Arthur Bull about the lobster fishery crisis in St. Mary’s Bay

For weeks now we’ve read stories about the violence and ugly confrontations taking place on the shores of St. Mary’s Bay,, To try to make some sense of the recent turmoil, I turned to Arthur Bull, who is currently an advisor to the World Forum of Fisher Peoples. Bull has also been involved in the commercial fishing sector as Coordinator of the Fundy Fixed Gear Council, and President of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen’s Association. How do you view the conflict taking place in St. Mary’s Bay and what do you think might be the pressures and the driving forces behind it?,, There was an article by the philosopher Cornel West, and he was saying that in the current climate, you’re either a racist or you’re an anti-racist. So, on that point, and not to dwell on it, but my thinking is that there’s two things going on in St. Mary’s Bay. One is about the fisheries, and the other is about the racism,,, >click to read< 11:23

Envelope pushed in St. Marys Bay and Digby folk pushed into a corner – Susan Beaton

So now that the dust is starting to settle, righteous keyboard warriors can take a breather. So let’s try to give the people of Digby County and St. Marys Bay some consideration. Terrible things were said and done this month to the Sipekne’katik First Nation people and to those who supported them. No apologies here for the bad behaviour. But consider for a moment what it’s like for a small village, its lifeblood on the line, as a fight for treaty rights plays out on its doorstep.  Sipekne’katik wanted to push to the forefront the “moderate livelihood” debate, as many bands in other areas are doing as well. This tiny bay became a focus of that effort. What happened next is a bit more dubious. By Susan Beaton, >click to read< 09:23