Mi'kmaq band launches legal case to force N.S. government to permit lobster sales

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A Nova Scotia First Nation has filed a legal action against the province over a regulation that limits the ability of the band to sell its lobster catch without a federal licence.

Lawyers for the Sipekne'katik First Nation say the provincial rule is preventing purchases of the band's catch under a self-regulated fishery and is infringing on its treaty rights.

The band says in legal documents received by the courts on Monday that the 1999 Donald Marshall Jr. Supreme Court of Canada decision gives it the right to fish and trade in support of a moderate livelihood.

The provincial government regulates the sale of lobster by granting licences to approved lobster buyers, and purchasers risk sanctions if they buy catch from a harvester who doesn't have a federal licence.

Premier Stephen McNeil has argued that the federal government must first define a moderate livelihood fishery before the province can allow buyers to legally purchase lobster from the band.

The First Nation is asking the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to declare that the regulation violates its treaty rights, and that the rules don't apply to Sipekne'katik members who fish for a moderate livelihood.