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Indigenous rights: Overfishing, out of season

The Story

In 1996, Mi'kmaq native Donald Marshall Jr. was convicted on three counts of catching and fishing eels out of season. In 1999, after taking his appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, Marshall won the right to fish year-round, as laid out in his treaty rights. Since the verdict, the Mi'kmaq have begun to fish lobster aggressively says Arthur Bull, Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermen's Association coordinator. In this CBC Radio clip, Bull alleges that Indigenous fishermen who are not treaty Mi'kmaqs have also begun fishing out of season. Bull is concerned because the lobster fishery is one of the only ones not yet depleted in the area. The Supreme Court of Canada ruling condones fishing that produces "a moderate livelihood." To maintain this, Bull suggests the Mi'kmaq employ Indigenous peoples' "traditional values of stewardship" from which non-Indigenous fisherman could also learn.

Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Sept. 23, 1999
Guest: Arthur Bull
Host: Barbara Budd
Reporter: Rick MacInnes-Rae
Duration: 7:30

Did You know?

• After the ruling, non-Indigenous fisherman cut 2,000 Mi'kmaq lobster traps.
• In a 2002 article for Wind Speaker, Mi'kmaq chief Lloyd Augustine said after the court's decision his community of Burnt Church would decide for themselves what was best for the environment, rather than "produce a moderate livelihood."

• The Burnt Church plan was to catch a limit of 13,500 kilograms of fish, which would be for food and ceremony rather than for profit. Burnt Church would also reduce traps in autumn when lobster reproduce.
• The Marshall ruling allowed for year-round hunting and fishing rights, and did not apply to logging quotas.

• In 1998, Mi'kmaq Joshua Bernard was charged for cutting 23 logs from spruce trees in New Brunswick. The ruling was overturned in a Court of Appeal in August 2003. The court said Bernard had the right to cut and sell logs from Crown trees.


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