Indigenous fishermen head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. A First Nation in Nova Scotia that was struggling to sell its lobster harvest amid tensions over its self-regulated fishery says it has managed to find a buyer for a portion of its catch. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan

Indigenous fishermen head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. A First Nation in Nova Scotia that was struggling to sell its lobster harvest amid tensions over its self-regulated fishery says it has managed to find a buyer for a portion of its catch. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan

Mi’kmaq band finds buyer for portion of lobster catch after alleged blacklisting

Chief Mike Sack of Sipekne’katik First Nation said today his band had been stuck with about 14,000 pounds of lobster

A First Nation in Nova Scotia that was struggling to sell its lobster amid tensions over its self-regulated fishery says it has managed to find a buyer for a portion of its catch.

Chief Mike Sack of Sipekne’katik First Nation said today his band had been stuck with about 14,000 pounds of lobster its commercially licensed boats caught in the Bay of Fundy.

He estimates the value of the lobster at about $150,000, but last week he said potential buyers feared retaliation if they did business with the band.

Sack says the new buyer — who is not being named by the band — won’t be purchasing lobster harvested in St. Marys Bay under the band’s self-regulated moderate livelihood fishery.

Sipekne’katik opened the St. Marys Bay fishery last month, saying their fishers were exercising the treaty right of East Coast Indigenous communities to fish for a “moderate livelihood,” as confirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999.

A second ruling from the court clarified that the federal Fisheries Department can regulate to conserve stocks, while also noting the application of the rules need to be justified.

Some non-Indigenous fishing groups have argued that there should be a moratorium on the moderate livelihood fishery as it is occurring outside of the federally regulated season and therefore violates the Supreme Court’s clarification.

In the weeks since it was launched on Sept. 17, two lobster pounds handling Sipekne’katik lobster have been targeted, with one damaged and the other destroyed by fire. Last Wednesday the band obtained a court injunction that prohibits anyone from “threatening, coercing, harassing or intimidating” band members involved in the fishery or people doing business with them.

Sack said the band’s three commercial vessels, which were licensed to participate in the fisheries as a result of the Marshall decision, have sold their catch to licensed buyers for years.

However, he alleges since the launch of the self-regulated fishery all of his band’s catch was blacklisted by lobster buyers.

Last week, a potential buyer emerged and then withdrew, saying his company was concerned it could not distinguish between the lobster caught under federal fisheries licences and the lobster caught in the moderate livelihood fishery.

The provincial government regulates the sale of lobster by granting licences to approved lobster buyers. Sack said the band is looking for a provincial exemption to sell the moderate livelihood lobster, but he said the province hasn’t offered to help.

Premier Stephen McNeil has said the province is awaiting the completion of negotiations between Ottawa and the band to define moderate livelihood fisheries.

Sack also says the band is grateful for offers of individual businesses and citizens to purchase the band’s lobster.

“Restaurant owners, chefs, seafood brokers and Canadians far and wide have approached us with sincere and creative proposals and more importantly with their support, which has meant so much to my community, this is the Canada we know,” he said in a news release.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19 exposure at The Key, weather shelter announced in Fort St. James

Northern Health made the public service announcement Dec. 1

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
52 positive COVID-19 cases now associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

Eight cases still active, 44 considered recovered

Pipe stringing work in Section 4. (Coastal GasLink photo/Lakes District News)
Pipe installation begins from south of Burns Lake to north of Vanderhoof

Coastal Gas Link’s November update indicates 528 additional workers

Vanderhoof Community Foundation logo.
Donate in your loved one’s name this Giving Tuesday: Vanderhoof Community Foundation

Today, Dec. 1 is celebrated as Giving Tuesday, a global movement for… Continue reading

Annerose Georgeson in the process of painting a mural at the Stuart Nechako Manor in July. While she was working on the mural, a nurse and a senior living at the Manor were enjoying the live painting. (Aman Parhar/Omineca Express)
Vanderhoof artist completes mural at the Manor

A Vanderhoof artist has finished her mural at a local long-term care… Continue reading

A tongue-in-cheek message about wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 on a sign outside a church near Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection count climbs back up to 656

20 more people in hospital, active cases still rising

The Walking Curriculum gets students outside and connecting with nature. (Amanda Peterson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
‘Walking Curriculum’ crafted by SFU professor surges in popularity

The outdoor curriculum encourages students to connect with the natural world

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

A sign is seen this past summer outside the Yunesit’in Government office west of Williams Lake reminding visitors and members to stay safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
B.C. First Nation leaders await privacy commissioner decision on COVID-19 information

Release of life-saving data cannot wait, says coalition of First Nations

MLA Jennifer Whiteside is B.C.’s new minister of education. She is speaking out against Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld and asking him to resign. (Black Press)
New education minister calls on Chilliwack trustee to resign

Whiteside echoes former minister’s promise to look at options to remove Barry Neufeld

Peter Beckett. ~ File photo
Supreme Court of Canada to decide if it will hear appeal in 2010 wife murder trial

Peter Beckett has stood trial twice for murder in connection with the death of his wife, Laura Letts-Beckett

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
B.C.’s largest COVID-19 care-home outbreak records 19 deaths, 147 cases

Tabor Home in Abbotsford has been battling outbreak since Nov. 4

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read