Commercial lobster fishermen stage protest demanding meeting with DFO
YARMOUTH, N.S. -- Hundreds of commercial fisherman and their families gathered in downtown Yarmouth on Friday hoping to get Ottawa's attention.
The fishermen want a meeting with federal fisheries minister Bernadette Jordan, who they say hasn't been listening to their concerns.
"We've all fished in peace with the Mi'kmaq for 20 years and we all want the same issue, we want DFO at the table, to help us know what the future of our fishery is going to look like," said lobster fisher Joel Comeau
They say they want all fishing to take place within DFO's regulated season and they're worried about lobster conservation for future generations.
"In the summer industry, you've got the lobsters that are molting, we have females that are mating," said lobster fisher Samantha Leblanc.
"And if you go and you take this out of the water, it's not good for the industry at all."
Said Comeau:"We're not challenging rights, we're not challenging the Marshall decision, we just want to know, we want to know what our fishery is going to look like."
DFO says conservation is a shared priority among the industry.
The Sipekne'katik First Nation says they're asserting their treaty right.
Chief Mike Sack says he has a meeting with DFO on Monday to discuss their moderate livelihood fishery plan.
"We went into discussions with the federal government and we showed them our plan," Sack said Thursday. "We weren’t there to make a plan with them. We have a plan we’re working towards self-governance and that’s our focus and we’re striving towards that."
Commercial fishers and their families marched from the DFO office to town hall, where they met briefly with Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood.
"Let's hash through this so we can come to a solution that's best for everybody," Mood said. "This is our economy."
Along with the town's mayor, the premier of Nova Scotia is also calling on Ottawa to bring both sides together at the table. Stephen McNeil is also asking the feds to define a moderate livelihood.
DFO says the minister has met with leaders in the commercial fisheries to hear their views and says these conversations will continue.
But fishermen say their talks with the minister have been short and inconclusive.
They're asking Ottawa to invest in the situation so that a peaceful agreement can be reached.