Court injunction creates calm in southwest N.S., as defining moderate livelihood fishery continues
DIGBY, N.S. -- The waters aren't quite as rough in southwest Nova Scotia this week, but the dispute over the moderate livelihood continues with both sides talking to Ottawa.
Copies of an injunction from Nova Scotia's Supreme Court – the reason for cooler heads -- were clearly visible on Thursday.
"Basically, it was an attempt for us to try to protect our fishers from harassment, threats, intimidation as they go out and exercise their constitutional right to provide for themselves and their families," said lawyerJames Michael.
The injunction prohibits anyone from trying to stop Sipenkne'katik First Nation fishers from accessing wharfs in both Saulnierville and Weymouth as well as a lobster pound in New Edinburgh, where some Indigenous fishers have been camped out.
Sipenkne'katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack says his main concern is safety.
"We're grateful that the junction went through," Sack says. "It protects our people and it protects everyone so there's no altercations. It helps calm the waters and people know there will be actions taken if they do cross the line."
Things have been calmer this week and Sack is hoping that will continue when Lobster Fishing Area 34, in Yarmouth, opens in a few weeks and more boats are on the water.
"There will be a lot of commercial boats and I'm just hoping that the peace carries in through that and everyone gets along like we should," Sack says.
The president of Cold Water Lobster Association agrees things are less tense this week, but says commercial fishermen are still concerned.
"The season's five weeks away," said Bernie Berry, the president of the Cold Water Lobster Association."People are starting to focus on that. This thing is in people's minds right now and this isn't going to go away, even though the tensions have temped down and we're all happy about that but it's still a big, big concern because this is going to have a big impact on the future."
Berry says talks with government are slow and he stands by the position of commercial fishermen.
Their concern is about conservation and fishing out of season.
"We do have an upcoming call with Minister Jordan," Berry said. "We hope there's something that comes out of that. The first three or four really haven't given us anything to hang our hats on. Unfortunately, Minister Jordan's still deliberately giving the company lines, the talking points and stuff like this and it just leaves us frustrated. We got to get past that stuff and start talking to one another instead of at one another."
Meanwhile, Sack says talks continue with Ottawa, and while it's expected to take some time to define a moderate livelihood, he hopes to have something on paper this week regarding timelines.
There's also still the matter of approximately 15,000 pounds of lobster Sack says is sitting in storage as they try to find a buyer.