DFO arrests, releases 3 people in connection with St. Marys Bay lobster seizure
Fisheries and Oceans won't say where or when arrests happened
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans arrested and released three more people in connection with last week's seizure of a lobster shipment that originated from St. Marys Bay, N.S., where a controversial Mi'kmaw lobster fishery is underway.
Last week, DFO said it seized a "significant quantity of lobster," a vehicle and a trailer in New Brunswick. Two people were arrested and released. The lobsters were released back into the ocean.
DFO did not say where or when the three other arrests took place.
"These arrests are directly related to the enforcement actions taken in New Brunswick on Sept. 28," DFO spokesperson Lauren Sankey said Tuesday in a statement to CBC News.
One hundred and eleven lobster traps have been seized in St. Marys Bay since Sept. 28, Sankey said. Lobsters in those traps were also returned to the ocean. These seizures are not directly related to enforcement actions in New Brunswick, she said.
DFO declined to provide further details because both matters are part of ongoing investigations.
Debate over moderate livelihood fishery
The statement leaves unanswered whether DFO operations are directly related to the Sipekne'katik band's moderate livelihood lobster fishery, which launched in St. Marys Bay in August.
The commercial season there is closed, but the band says it is pursuing the Mi'kmaw treaty right to fish for a moderate living. The right was recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999, but the court never defined the term moderate living.
Ottawa spent over $500 million to integrate Mi'kmaw bands into the commercial fishery by buying up commercial fishing licences and training Indigenous fishermen.
First Nations leaders have repeatedly said DFO actions in St. Marys Bay amount to harassment.
A DFO-authorized Sipekne'katik communal food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery is also underway in St. Marys Bay.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it is living up to responsibilities also recognized by the Supreme Court in 1999 when it ruled the Mi'kmaw treaty right to a moderate living from fishing was subject to regulation by the federal government for conservation and in the public interest.
DFO says the treaty right to a moderate living must take place within commercial seasons to ensure orderly and sustainable management of the resource.
Sipekne'katik does not accept DFO authority over its treaty fishery and says it is too small to pose a conservation risk. Commercial fishermen say the band is underestimating the harm its fishery could do to stocks.
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