Potlotek lobster traps seized for a 'variety of reasons,' says DFO
Potlotek Chief Wilbert Marshall says federal government failing to accommodate treaty rights
A Mi'kmaw chief in Nova Scotia says a lobster fisherman whose traps were seized last week was fishing in accordance with his treaty rights.
The seizure took place on April 30 — the first day of the Potlotek First Nation's spring lobster season.
"This seizure is a failure of the government of Canada to accommodate our rights and a failure to uphold the honour of the Crown," said Potlotek Chief Wilbert Marshall in a news release.
The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaw Chiefs said the moderate livelihood fisherman from the Potlotek First Nation had 37 traps seized by Fisheries officers.
DFO said the removal of gear in St. Peters Bay was part of routine inspections to ensure the individual was compliant with the Fisheries Act.
"Any fishing activity occurring outside of the Fisheries Act and associated regulations without an authorized licence or in contravention of a licence issued by the department is subject to enforcement action," the department said in an emailed statement.
"Traps have been seized for a variety of reasons."
The commercial spring lobster season in the area, known as LFA 29, also began on April 30.
Marshall said the fisherman was following the limitations put in place by the Fisheries Department, as well as Potlotek's livelihood fishing plan, which remains under consultation with DFO.
A number of First Nations communities in the province launched their own rights-based fisheries last year to mark the 21st anniversary of the historic Supreme Court of Canada decision that affirmed Mi'kmaw rights to fish for a moderate livelihood.
In March, federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said Ottawa will not license any treaty-based fishery in Atlantic Canada unless it operates within the commercial season.