A convoy of non-Indigenous fishing boats moved into St. Marys Bay in Saulnierville N.S., on Sunday to remove lobster traps set by indigenous fishermen. Amid such an act, Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermans Association president, Colin Sproul, said no laws were broken. According to Sproul, the fishermen retrieved improperly tagged fishing gear from a closed lobster breeding ground and prevented the ecological destruction.
The two groups blame each other, and neither of them seems to back down from the fight. Sipekne’Katik First Nation Chief Michael Sack said a Mi’kmaw fisherman went out to check his gear, and he was swarmed by commercial fishing vessels that were cutting him off and hauling their gear, stealing their traps. Similarly, Sproul said one of their boats was chased by a First Nations vessel, and they made an attempt to ram him and board him. He immediately turned around and fled to Meteghan.
Sproul said they had no problem with the Indigenous fishery, and they respect and support Indigenous fishery rights.
However, he said the law stated that Indigenous people should not fish outside of the commercial season. Sproul said they had been ignored, obfuscated, called racists, liars, fomenters of hate for years. Moreover, he said the fight was not about race or treaty rights, but about greed and corruption, and lack of respect for the nursery grounds.
On the other hand, Sack said even though the commercial fishermen slowed down their operation a bit, they were in it for the long haul – with no plans to stop fishing. He said they had more gear arriving, and as much as they pulled them, they’d keep putting them back in the water. Indigenous fishermen said they had spoken with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans concerning their moderate livelihood plan, and they were calling on the government to mediate in the disagreement.
In a news release issued earlier Sunday, Sack said that he had held a “positive meeting” on Saturday with federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to converse a path forward. He said both groups agreed to continue with the discussions.