Mi'kmaq lobster boat in self-regulated fishery destroyed in suspicious fire

(Submitted/RCMP)

A lobster boat belonging to a Mi'kmaq fisher has been destroyed by a suspicious fire at a wharf in southwestern Nova Scotia, near waters where a self-regulated Indigenous fishery is underway.

RCMP Sgt. Andrew Joyce says police are investigating after a fire was reported by a wharf employee just before 6 a.m. Monday.

The police spokesman said the lobster boat had been tied to the wharf at Comeauville, N.S., for over six weeks awaiting a mechanical repair and suffered significant damage from the blaze.

Robert Syliboy, a member of the Sipekne'katik First Nation, confirmed in a telephone interview the 11-metre vessel belongs to him and was federally licensed to participate in the commercial fishery beginning next month.

He is among the 10 Mi'kmaq lobster harvesters who participated in the launch last month of a self-regulated fishery outside of the federally regulated season on St. Marys Bay. He was using a different boat out of Saulnierville, N.S., for that fishery, which allows boats to set a maximum of 50 traps each.

The fishery is based on the landmark 1999 Supreme Court ruling that found Donald Marshall Jr., a Mi'kmaq man, had a treaty right to fish for eels when and where he wanted, without a licence.
    
(With files from Michael Tutton and Danielle Edwards/The Canadian Press)