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

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

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

Northern Health announced on Dec. 1 holiday changes to the medical travel bus schedule for December and January 2021. (Photo: supplied)
Holiday schedule changes for Northern Health Connections bus

N.H. announces transportation time changes from Prince Rupert to Prince George

A Water Quality Advisory is still in affect on Dec. 1 in Prince Rupert after being in place for a month. (Black Press file photo)
Water Quality Advisory still in place for Prince Rupert

High turbidity is creating risky drinking water in Prince Rupert

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

Most Read