Canada

Burin Peninsula fishermen vow to prevent native fishing

Newfoundland fishermen on the Burin Peninsula are vowing to prevent native fishermen from Nova Scotia from fishing crab in Newfoundland waters. The native fishermen are acting on last month's Supreme Court of Canada ruling which says they can fish year round. The Newfoundlanders are saying they won't allow that, and are already backing up their threats with actions.

It's a stand off in Lawn. RCMP and Fisheries Officers are watching local fishermen. The fishermen are watching them right back. And all hands are watching to see if anyone shows up to try to outfit this fishing boat with crab pots. Fisherman Patrick Strang: "I feel there's no one putting any crab pots aboard boats out of Lawn and anywhere else, we're gonna chase them."

This boat has been leased to a group of native fishermen from Nova Scotia. They want to fish crab off Lawn now, feel it's their right.

We caught up with James Pictou in Nova Scotia: "We've been treated unfairly for 200 years. We have the right to fish and it's time the Newfoundland fishermen get used to it."

The local fishermen turned the crew away yesterday: Jim Drake: "Our fathers, grandfathers, forefathers they all fished ... they all fished ... we don't have no rights? We don't own no water. We're just here on the land that's it. It's not happening, no way. Why should we let them come in here and do as they like."

Ray Strand: "What it is, is taking our livelihood from us. If they fish they're taking our crab and they're taking our livelihood. As far as I'm concerned the crab is caught for this year. It affects everybody."

Things turned ugly last night 50 kilometres away in Grand Bank. A group of men who'd been drinking came to this house where Mi'kmaq crew members were staying. Witness Doug Pryor: "I come down the street and I thought it was a barbecue and all of a sudden I seen this fire in the road." Jimmy Weir: "They come out and burned their belongings in the middle of the road there." Doug Pryor: "I seen clothes burning and a pair of rubbers." The charred spots could still be seen on Wednesday afternoon - even after the 4 men charged with wilful damage were released from custody.

And in Lawn there were calls for the Federal Government to stop the native fishing plans ... or else! Jim Drake: "This is gonna cause a lot of hard feelings between a lot of people. They're looking for war. I mean if they go out there in them boats we got to go out behind them and either take up their pots or cut their buoys off. We gotta do something. We gotta stop it."

The fishermen say they have too much invested to merely stand idly by.

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