'We're not backing down': Potlokek First Nation Chief says of lobster fishery
ST. PETER'S, N.S. -- Things are heating up on and off the water in the fishery dispute on Cape Breton's Potlotek First Nation.
The community's chief says there appears to be no plan to return traps seized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and that a meeting with DFO Thursday has left him with more questions than answers.
A fishing boat from Potlotek First Nation set out from St. Peter's Canal on Thursday, but before it did, one of the Mi'kmaw fishers spoke out about the tension that's been here since his community started its own fishery three weeks ago.
"We're still trying to fish, and we still have settlers, saying that this is their water, their fish -- but we ain't saying that," said Michael Basque.
Earlier this week, a video surfaced appearing to show DFO officers pulling alongside First Nations fishers.
Potlotek Chief Wilbert Marshall says a number of his band's traps were seized.
During a meeting Thursday with DFO officials, there was no word on whether they would be returned.
He says if any more traps are seized, things could get ugly.
"They're going to have another Burnt Church on their hands, maybe even worse, because we're not backing down," said Chief Wilbert Marshall.
An email to DFO for comment wasn't returned by news time.
Wednesday, an angry, but peaceful, group protested outside the Fisheries and Oceans office in Richmond County.
Marshall says he is hoping to meet with the federal fisheries minister and other officials, to clear up any miscommunication and to try to prevent any retaliation, should the two groups come into conflict again.
"We don't want to do that, but you keep pushing somebody down, you keep pushing their buttons, what's going to happen?" Marshall said.
Back on the dock, Basque says he feels there is enough room on the waters for everyone to fish.
"We just want to fish," Basque said. "We're not hating on anyone. We're not coming here to say we're going to take all the fish. We're coming out in December."
Marshall says his band's fishery is set to wrap up Dec. 1.