The University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries (IOF) has thrown it’s support behind Mi’kmaq lobster fishermen on the grounds that protesters’ claims of a conservation crisis in the Nova Scotia waters are not credible.
“We strongly denounce the acts of violence perpetrated against Mi’kmaw harvesters pursuing their rights, and also denounce any claim that such actions are justified in the name of conservation,” A IOF statement reads. “There is no credibility on biological grounds to the conservation concerns, given the terms of the fishery initiated by the Mi’kmaw community.”
The statement follows a tense week in the Atlantic province where non-Indigenous protesters clashed with Sipekne’katik fishermen and vandalized property.
The Sipekne’katik are conducting a fishery outside of the federally regulated season based on a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision ruling East Coast Indigenous groups have the right to fish for a “moderate livelihood,” though a second ruling stated this was subject to federal regulation.
“We respect the rule of law and abhor the use of violence for settling disputes,” IOF stated.
The school’s stance follows an identical statement of solidarity from Dalhousie University’s Department of Biology.
Both institutions are calling on Canada’s fisheries minister, Bernadette Jordan, to support the creation of a fisheries management regime that embraces Mi’kmaw rights and establishes new and effective measures for conservation and fishermen’s livelihoods in the coastal communities.