Departing Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan says new fishing agreements with Mi’kmaq communities indicate her approach to the Indigenous lobster harvest is working, despite continuing tensions on the water.
The Nova Scotia cabinet minister — who remains in her post until a new cabinet is named — was defeated in the Sept. 20 election, with some political scientists saying the fishing disputes in St. Marys Bay cost her votes among Indigenous communities and commercial fishers.
On Wednesday, the federal Fisheries Department announced it had negotiated lobster fishing arrangements with Bear River and Annapolis Valley First Nations, which authorizes their fishers to set 70 traps per harvester off southern Nova Scotia and to legally sell their catch.
The Acadia and Glooscap First Nations also participated in the discussions and may request to take part in fishing this season under the same agreement.
Tensions remain, however, between Ottawa and Sipekne’katik First Nation, whose fishers say government officers have been seizing traps set under their self-regulated fishery off southwest Nova Scotia.
Sipekne’katik cites a 1999 Supreme Court decision allowing Indigenous communities to fish for a moderate livelihood, but the court later clarified that Ottawa could regulate the treaty right for conservation and other limited purposes.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 14, 2021.