Membertou fishing director says vandalism a result of ignorance, poor communication
MEMBERTOU, N.S. -- The director of fisheries for Membertou First Nation says a fire that destroyed a fishing vessel belonging to his community is the result of ignorance and miscommunication.
"We have significant damage of over $300,000 to this vessel, we had 100 traps that were cut that cost the band $10,000, and this is over 400 pounds of lobster," Hubert Nicholas said.
Nicolas says fishers were setting traps with what are called 'food social ceremonial' tags.
Their catches are provided to community members that cannot exercise that right and are not for commercial use.
"It's very frustrating," Nicholas said. "It's something I've reiterated to DFO several times. They need to do more to educate the wider community on what our rights are."
John Paul, the captain of the burned-out vessel, says he's still in shock and is worried about what could happen next.
"When we try to exercise our rights, this is what happens," Paul said."What's their next move? What are they going do? What are they going to do to me or my family? Are they in danger?"
Cape Breton Regional Police are not yet saying what started the fire, but say they're working with the fire marshal's office to try and determine a cause.
"Just get to the bottom of it," Paul said. "I just hope the guys that did it get caught and get prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
For now, Paul says he's working on getting a new boat and will be setting more traps in the coming weeks.
"What we've always said is we will always keep fishing," Nicholas said. "This was a food fishery, so we will keep fishing under food fishery and keep supplying food to the community until we've given enough to the community, then we will stop."