Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Sipekne'katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack speaks to reporters at a press conference after the start of the Indigenous lobster fishery in Saulnierville, N.S., on Aug. 16, 2021.

JOHN MORRIS/Reuters

Days after he was arrested by federal Fisheries Department officers, Sipekne’katik First Nation Chief Mike Sack said Friday his band members will continue to fish in St. Marys Bay whether Ottawa likes it or not.

His community’s self-regulated lobster fishery – opened months ahead of the start to the federally regulated season – will continue to operate until the end of the year as planned, he said in an interview.

Officers with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, known as DFO, have pulled his members’ traps out of the water, but Sack says his community will replace them.

Story continues below advertisement

Tensions renew over lobster fishery in Nova Scotia

First Nation chief detained by fisheries officers in N.S. after launching fishery

“For me it’s simple,” he said. “We have a right for this fishery and all we want them to do is to respect that and to let us govern our own fishery and to actually exercise that right.”

The Sipekne’katik First Nation argues that a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirming its members’ treaty right to fish allows them to harvest lobster year-round to earn a “moderate livelihood.”

But the court has also said the government can regulate that treaty right for conservation and other limited purposes. Federal regulation dictates that the area where the Sipekne’katik First Nation fishery is operating in southwestern Nova Scotia – LFA 34 – is open for lobster fishing from the last Monday in November until the end of May.

Last September, the band launched a self-regulated lobster fishery outside the federally regulated season, which led to violence and the burning of a lobster pound that stored Indigenous catch.

The band’s traps aren’t authorized under the Fisheries Act. And Noel d’Entremont with the Department of Fisheries says the federal agency will continue to remove the lobster traps and seize them as evidence.

The acting director of conservation and protection for the department, d’Entremont said in an interview Friday officers with his agency have collected “a couple hundred” traps in the area since Monday, about 90 of which were seized. He said about 500 live lobsters were released into the water.

On Monday, Sack announced his community had expanded and opened its lobster-fishing season, describing the operation as a “treaty fishery.” He was arrested by fisheries officers shortly after and held at the DFO detachment in Meteghan, N.S., for about 45 minutes.

Story continues below advertisement

Sack said he was questioned for being “party to the offence of (an) unauthorized fishery.” He was not charged.

He said he hopes his band can operate its own fishery without being subject to enforcement operations by the federal government. The community has said it will operate under the guidelines of its own fisheries-management plan, which it has said is based on sound conservation principles.

When asked if the Fisheries Department plans on considering the community’s conservation research, d’Entremont said, “the Government of Canada is very interested in working with communities and making progress on negotiating moderate livelihood fishing licences.”

“Other parts of our department are actively working on that,” he added.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies