Lobster protests: Nova Scotia MP demands immediate action from Ottawa

A Nova Scotia MP is demanding Ottawa step in to quell rising anger among lobster fishermen who are accusing Indigenous fishermen of illegally trapping and selling lobster out of season.

Chris d’Entremont, the Conservative MP for West Nova, has written a letter to Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan, saying he is worried about the safety of his constituents.

On Tuesday, hundreds of non-Indigenous commercial fishermen staged protests at two wharfs in southwestern Nova Scotia, alleging illegal fishing in St. Mary’s Bay.

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They say a communal First Nations lobster fishery is being used as cover for an illegal commercial fishery, and they are demanding a crackdown on those selling lobster out of season.

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D’Entremont says the protests are the result of Jordan’s failure to take action on an issue that has been a source of friction in the Maritimes for more than 20 years.

Sipekne’katik First Nation fishermen say their right to fish denied
Sipekne’katik First Nation fishermen say their right to fish denied

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs has cited a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirming the constitutional right of First Nations to earn a moderate livelihood from fishing, saying Ottawa has yet to establish regulations for a moderate livelihood fishery.

The Conservative MP, whose constituency includes St. Mary’s Bay, has asked Jordan to travel to Nova Scotia to meet with fishermen to resolve the dispute.

“Your failure to take concrete action over the past year is unacceptable and a slap in the face to Nova Scotians,” d’Entremont said today in his letter, co-signed by New Brunswick Tory MP Richard Bragdon.

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“Your dismal handling of this issue is undoing decades of relationship-building … and jeopardizes the important dialogue that should be taking place … We are calling upon you to take immediate concrete action to protect all Nova Scotians and de-escalate the current situation.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2020.

© 2020 The Canadian Press