Nova Scotia

3rd Mi'kmaw community launches moderate livelihood fishery in N.S.

The Pictou Landing First Nation has launched a moderate livelihood lobster fishery in Nova Scotia and released its management plan publicly.

Pictou Landing First Nation plans to fish in 2 areas within the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Chief Andrea Paul of the Pictou Landing First Nation announced Wednesday the community has launched a rights-based livelihood lobster fishery. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

A third Mi'kmaw community has launched a moderate livelihood lobster fishery in Nova Scotia.

Chief Andrea Paul of the Pictou Landing First Nation made the announcement on social media Wednesday, posing with council members in a photo as she handed new tags to a fisherman.

"It was a great day, our fishers were really happy that we were finally moving ahead with our plan. So at 9 o'clcock they started lining up to pick up their tags, they're very happy," she told CBC's Information Morning Nova Scotia. 

The First Nation, which sits on the north shore of Nova Scotia on the Northumberland Strait, has also posted its full fisheries management plan online as well as a policy and protocols document.

Community members are licensed to operate in lobster fishing areas (LFAs) 26A and 26B within the Gulf of St. Lawrence region, with a maximum of 30 traps per individual. 

They will all fish from small aluminum boats, rather than larger traditional fishing boats, which highlights the small scale of the fishery, said Paul.

"Having our fishers go out, it allows us to gather the information in order for us to develop a really robust plan. We have to have the ability to go out and navigate and fish those waters so we can collect our own data," said Paul.

There are no details in the plan on how many licences will be distributed, but it states that fishing and harvest conservation practices will be determined by the band council "based on community, science and co-management recommendations."

The plan also states all livelihood fishing will be closed "during summer lunar cycles when lobsters molt in coastal waters." During this time, all harvesters must remove all lobster traps from the water.

Paul said it was important to spell out the work the band will be doing to promote conservation.

"We do have a really good relationship with our commercial fishers, so it is important to have that transparency and for them to see we are all about conservation," said Paul. 

She hopes to speak with federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan about the plan. In the meantime, Paul has met with some commercial fisherman and talked to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the RCMP.  Paul said if anyone has questions about the fishery they should contact her.

Lobster fishing areas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence region around the Maritimes. Pictou Landing fishery members will operate in LFAs 26A and 26B. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans)

The fishery will close from Dec. 14 to May 1, 2021, or the opening day of the commercial season. 

The commercial season in these areas opens April 30 and closes June 30 with the exception of two small sections that open in May and end in July, according to DFO.

DFO numbers show there are 714 commercial licences in LFA 26A and 227 licences in LFA 26B. Trap limits range from 250 to 280 depending on one's licence type and province.

Other livelihood fisheries

The Sipekne'katik First Nation was the first to launch a moderate livelihood fishery two months ago.

The fishery, on Nova Scotia's southwest coast in St. Marys Bay, has faced tense and sometimes violent opposition by non-Indigenous commercial fishermen, many of whom argue the fishery will hurt lobster stocks if it falls outside of the federally regulated season.

On Oct.1, the Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton launched a rights-based livelihood lobster fishery under its own management plan. DFO confiscated more than 150 of the band's traps nearly two weeks ago. 

Chief Terry Paul of the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton has also said his community is planning its own livelihood lobster fishery, but did not offer a timeline.

The Mi'kmaq say they are going ahead on their own because it's been 21 years since the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Donald Marshall Jr., which affirmed their right to earn a moderate livelihood from fishing.

Paul said she's wished the fishermen luck and asked them to be careful as they head out to sea.

"I hope they have a good season and I'm looking forward to the conversations once this season is done and to figure out our next steps."

About the Author

Haley Ryan

Reporter

Haley Ryan is a reporter based in Halifax. Got a story idea? Send an email to haley.ryan@cbc.ca, or reach out on Twitter @hkryan17.

With files from Information Morning

now