First Nations, commercial fishermen, call on government to resolve dispute over moderate livelihood fishing
NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. -- Commercial fishermen in Cape Breton have been meeting today, discussing their concerns over the burgeoning Indigenous fishery.
More First Nations are planning to launch moderate livelihood fisheries.
The one thing the two sides agree on is that the government has to do more to resolve the dispute.
Fishermen in North Sydney gathered at the Ballast Ground for a private meeting Tuesday afternoon.
Many are not happy with the new moderate livelihood fisheries rolled out by First Nations communities.
"There's a reason why there's different seasons and different times of year, and most of it is for conservation," says fishermen's representative Herb Nash.
The co-chair of the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs says the Chiefs have rejected a financial offer from Ottawa to give up their fishing rights for the next ten years.
"It was insulting," said Chief Terry Paul."It's a mindset to throw money at it and tell us to give up our rights. Give up being a Mi'kmaq. You can't do that. We're not going to do that."
Chief Paul says the $87-million offer included boats, gear and other training needed to join the existing commercial fishery.
But Nova Scotia Liberal MP Jaime Battiste says his government is not asking to extinguish treaty rights in return.
"I don't believe that there's been any signal from our government that we're extinguishing any treaty rights as part of this negotiation," Battiste said. "What we're asking for is clarity in terms of how the right is implemented."
In a release today, Sipekne'katik First Nation said it would consider imposing a quota on the total allowable catch of each license to address evidence of any stock depletion.
"Conservation is the number one rule of the fishery," Nash said. "If we're not going by conservation, then nothing is going to work."
Chief Paul says Membertou First Nation is in the process of launching its own moderate livelihood fishery.
"We don't have to have permission from the government to fish," Chief Paul said. "We already have that, so we're not negotiating that."
But the talks with Ottawa over the moderate livelihood fishery will continue.