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

Some of the folks behind Angel Flight East Kootenay: Todd Weselake is a director, partner and pilot while Brent Bidston is the president and lead pilot of the not-for-profit. Pictured here with their older plane, they hope to get an upgrade for thanks to RDEK funding. (Image courtesy of Angel Flight East Kootenay)
Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

$100,000 will go to the not-for-profit each year, with the funds to be used to acquire a larger plane

Forty-seven vaccination clinics will open across Interior Health beginning March 15. (Canadian Press)
48 COVID-19 vaccine clinics to open across Interior Health

Select groups can book appointments starting Monday

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

Ryan Bavin of Bavin Glassworks in Invermere. Photo: Submitted
Call for entries for Columbia Basin Culture Tour

Deadline for registration for artists and venues is April 15

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Most Read