Pictou Landing moderate livelihood lobster fishery to operate with DFO approval
N.S. Assembly of Mi'kmaw Chiefs says there's still a need for the Mi’kmaq to govern their own fishery
The Pictou Landing First Nation is getting ready to operate a moderate livelihood lobster fishery in waters off Nova Scotia starting Tuesday with the approval of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
About 25 members of the community have registered to fish and sell their catch under the plan and are being issued traps and tags by the First Nation, according to Chief Andrea Paul.
"It gives them the opportunity to earn some money; they're definitely not going to earn what a commercial fisher earns," Paul said. "For anyone that is currently on social assistance or relies on some type of support, it will give them a bit of an income."
Pictou Landing, which is located on the province's north shore, first launched its moderate livelihood lobster fishery in November 2020.
In a news release, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs said the Pictou Landing First Nation held formal consultations with DFO and came to an understanding without having to sign any agreements or changing its position on treaty rights.
'Really good relationship' with DFO
"I feel we have a really good relationship here with DFO," said Paul. "We've had a consistent dialogue, and it's not perfect by any means, but we are open to have that conversation and to work through those issues."
The assembly continues to call for major changes to the Fisheries Act that would allow the Mi'kmaq to govern their own fishery outside of DFO's control, the release said.
Pictou Landing is now the fifth First Nation in Nova Scotia to receive DFO approval for a moderate livelihood fishery, joining Acadia, Bear River, Annapolis Valley and Potlotek.
The Sipekne'katik First Nation was the first to launch a moderate livelihood fishery in the fall of 2020. Other First Nations, including Pictou Landing and Potlotek followed suit.
DFO said in a news release Friday that Ottawa is committed to advancing reconciliation and is working with First Nations across the Maritimes and the Gaspé region of Quebec to implement their treaty rights while maintaining healthy fisheries.
"Pictou Landing First Nation will designate community members to harvest and sell jakej (lobster) fished from waters known as Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 26A, in their traditional fishing territory," the release said.
"Moderate livelihood fishing is authorized to begin and end at the same time as the commercial fishing season in LFA 26A."
900 trap limit
According to the release, Pictou Landing First Nation will operate a maximum of 900 traps, which will be marked with a tag issued by the First Nation.
It said management measures for the fishery, such as trap standards and minimum carapace size, will be similar to those that apply to the commercial lobster fishery.
Many of the community members who are preparing to set traps are experienced, although a number are trying it out for the first time. Paul said she is excited to see a growing interest from women.
"We have quite a few women captains and deck hands so we're pretty diverse in the industry here," Paul said. "It makes me very proud."
An elder from the community was expected to talk Monday evening to those preparing to set traps and offer them a prayer.
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with files from Gareth Hampshire