Fishing boats, loaded with traps, head from port as the lobster season on Nova Scotia’s South Shore begins, in West Dover, N.S., Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. RCMP say a 74-year-old man faces charges in connection with a violent clash last month at a lobster pound in southwestern Nova Scotia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Fishing boats, loaded with traps, head from port as the lobster season on Nova Scotia’s South Shore begins, in West Dover, N.S., Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. RCMP say a 74-year-old man faces charges in connection with a violent clash last month at a lobster pound in southwestern Nova Scotia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Nova Scotia RCMP say man faces assault charges in violent clash at lobster pound

Tensions were high between First Nations fishers and non-Indigenous commercial fishermen

A 74-year-old Nova Scotia man has been charged in relation to a violent clash last month at a lobster pound in the southwestern part of the province, police announced on Saturday.

The RCMP said Yvon Thibault, of Digby County, has been charged with two counts of assault stemming from an incident in New Edinburgh, N.S., on Oct. 14.

A pound that stored Indigenous-caught lobster was ransacked as part of two clashes that police have said involved roughly 200 people at wharves in New Edinburgh and in Middle West Pubnico, N.S.

Thibault is scheduled to appear in court in Digby, N.S., on Feb. 15.

Another man was arrested last month for allegedly assaulting Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack, also on Oct. 14., but RCMP Sgt. Andrew Joyce said there were two other assault victims that day and Thibault is not accused of assaulting Sack.

“That (Sack) matter is a different matter altogether,” Joyce said in a telephone interview. “We are still investigating the events of that day and collecting evidence.”

The Mounties also asked anyone with information about the incident at the lobster pound to contact the Meteghan, N.S., detachment of the RCMP.

Tensions were high at the time of the incidents between First Nations fishers and non-Indigenous commercial fishermen opposed to an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery outside the federally regulated commercial season in St. Marys Bay.

Indigenous fishers have justified their fall harvests on a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision that affirmed the Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish for a “moderate livelihood” when and where they want.

The top court later clarified that decision, however, saying the federal government could regulate the Mi’kmaq treaty right for conservation and other limited purposes.

In an interview Saturday, the president of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance confirmed his industry association, which represents about 140 lobster processors and lobster pounds, is opposed to a moderate livelihood fishery that is outside the federally regulated commercial season.

Osborne Burke said while the alliance supports the treaty right of the Mi’kmaq to fish, it must be done under the rules set by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“Our membership does millions of dollars of business from one end of the province to the other with First Nations communities during the regular commercial fisheries and we expect that will continue,” said Burke. “What we are saying is anything outside the regular seasons, we do not support.”

Burke said the association believes it’s a matter of protecting lobster stocks during time when the crustaceans are moulting, adding that even a small number of traps are capable of landing large catches.

“The average person doesn’t realize he catching capacity with traps and more modern gear these days,” he said.

Burke, who is also general manager of the Victoria Fisheries Co-Operative in Cape Breton, said provincial licensing rules also clearly state that lobster and other seafood can’t be purchased unless they are caught with a federal licence.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq chiefs demand stop of alleged federal plans to seize lobster traps

Cheryl Maloney, a Mi’kmaq treaty advocate and member of Sipekne’katik First Nation, said the industry alliance doesn’t have a right to weigh in on a decision that was established by the Supreme Court of Canada.

“It’s up to them if they want to make a business decision not to deal with the Mi’kmaq,” said Maloney. “But what’s going to happen is we are going to find new markets and new partners.”

She said the move will only hurt the local economy in the long run because the moderate livelihood fishery is going to “grow and evolve.”

Meanwhile on Friday, federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan released a statement raising concerns about the health of the lobster stock in Cape Breton in connection with an Indigenous self-regulated fishery underway in St. Peters Bay.

Jordan said while the government recognizes the Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish, the scale of that lobster harvest is exceeding proposals made by Indigenous fishers.

But Potlotek First Nation Chief Wilbert Marshall said his community only has seven boats fishing in St. Peters Bay and he doesn’t believe they are causing conservation issues.

– By Keith Doucette in Halifax

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

fishingIndigenousNova Scotia

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

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach resident Harold MacDougall won $75,000 off a Casino Royale II Scratch & Win ticket, purchased the ticket at Qualicum Foods on Memorial Avenue. (BCLC photo)
Qualicum Beach man $75K richer thanks to scratch-and-win ticket windfall

MacDougall plans on trips to Cape Breton and Scotland

The property at 113 and 161 Island Highway is currently being dismantled as the developer attempts to salvage ‘usable’ lumber for their development application to the City of Parksville. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Development application delayed for high-profile Parksville property

Council refers application to staff for further improvements

(File photo)
RCMP warn of counterfeit bill use in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Police have received four calls in November regarding bogus bills

The COVID-19 pandemic had an effect on film production on central and north Vancouver Island, says Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Pictured here, production of TV series Resident Alien in Ladysmith earlier this year. (Black Press file)
Film commissioner says COVID-19 cost central Island $6 million in economic activity

Jurassic World: Dominion, Chesapeake Shores among productions halted due to pandemic, says INFilm

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read