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

UBC Sports Hall of Famer Carrie (Watson) Watts (far right, front row) helped lead the UBC Thunderbirds to the 2004 national championship, their first since 1974. She served as assistant coach a few years after graduation. (Photo/UBC)
Agassiz-born basketball star inducted into UBC Sports Hall of Fame

Carrie (Watson) Watts helped lead the team to their first championship in decades

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

Winnie Peters, centre, spoke about the loss of two husbands over the years, both of who were murdered. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls event in Hope on May 5, 2021 included prayers for men who have been killed as well. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Red dresses hang in Hope’s Memorial Park in remembrance

Group gathers for National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

Two locations marked in red on the map show where alcohol can be consumed in Vedder Park starting in June. (City of Chilliwack)
Chilliwack council approves continued alcohol consumption in Vedder Park

After last summer’s pilot there were no significant issues arising from alcohol allowed in 2 parks

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

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

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read