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

Premier John Horgan with drawings of replacement bridge for the Pattullo during a February 2018 presser. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey city staff want to act on council’s behalf for ‘minor’ changes to Pattullo replacement

The old bridge’s replacement is expected to be open for traffic in the fall of 2023

Marchers in support of Indian farmers walk along King George Boulevard in Surrey on Sunday afternoon, March 7, from Bear Creek to Holland Park. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
‘It won’t end’: Protesters march for Indian Farmers at another Surrey rally, with more to come

Across Surrey, more and more vehicles are seen with ‘No Farmers, No Food’ stickers and flags

The emergency department at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, B.C., in July 2020. (Black Press Media)
Peace Arch Hospital Foundation reaches $12 million goal

New operating suites to open this fall

(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

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A woman walks through Toronto’s financial district on Monday, July 30, 2018. A new poll suggests most Canadians believe there’s still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in this country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Canadians, especially women, say gender equality not achieved in Canada: Poll

Poll results themselves underscore the challenge, with more men believing equality had been achieved

This image provided by Harpo Productions shows Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, left, in conversation with Oprah Winfrey. (Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions via AP)
Race, title and anguish: Meghan and Harry explain royal rift

Meghan said she struggled with concerns within the royal family about her son’s skin colour

Most Read