Nova Scotia

Lobster fishermen's dispute prompts RCMP involvement

The RCMP has been asked to mediate a dispute among lobster fishermen that appears to be turning violent.
The group 1688 wants fishermen in Nova Scotia to stay in port.

The RCMP has been asked to mediate a dispute among Nova Scotia lobster fishermen that appears to be turning violent.

A group called the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association wants fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia to stay in port to reduce the supply of lobster. However, many people are defying the boycott.

There are reports of violence at some wharfs from Yarmouth to Cape Sable Island.

"There is some intimidation going on around the wharves and around the area, that's what's preventing the fishermen to go out fishing," said Yarmouth RCMP Staff Sgt. Michel Lacroix. "We haven't had any official complaints to investigate."

Steven Goreham, a member of the 1688 Professional Lobster Fishermen Association, told Radio-Canada he had heard the reports of violence.

"There were some things that went on that definitely shouldn't have gone on," he said Thursday morning. "We will not tolerate any more of that."

Goreham said bullies would be kicked out of the group.

Ashton Spinney, chair of the LFA 34 management board, said some fishermen who defied the boycott are afraid to return to port.

He wouldn't say what's been happening at the wharfs, but described it as "the most volatile situation I've seen in my lifetime."

Goreham said his group has asked the RCMP to take part in a meeting with Spinney's organization. A meeting is planned for Thursday afternoon in Yarmouth.

"Our role, basically, is to facilitate communication between the two groups," said Lacroix.

"Promoting communication and trying to mediate a little bit, that's all we can do, really. We're not experts in fishing but we're just trying to have both parties together."

The group 1688 — named after the number of licences in zones 33 and 34 — wants fishermen to stay in port until they're guaranteed a price of $5.50 a pound, about $1 more than they expect to get.

Hundreds of boats were tied up Monday when the boycott began. By Tuesday, however, more fishermen were heading out.

Meanwhile, lobster fishermen in western Cape Breton and the North Shore started their season this week.