'Stop criminalizing our treaty rights': National Chief of Assembly of First Nations tells DFO on N.S. wharf
The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations is calling for an end to what she calls intimidation over the Sipekne'katik First Nation's lobster fishery.
So far this summer, hundreds of traps have been seized from St. Mary's Bay and RoseAnne Archibald was on a boat that was detained by DFO officers Thursday afternoon, who then seized the traps of the fisherman she was with.
"Two DFO zodiacs with eight enforcement officers encircled and detained the boat and later traps were pulled, confiscated and loaded onto a Coast Guard boat," Sipekne'katik First Nation said in a news release. "The community members were fishing food, social and ceremonial (FSC) tags clearly designated with the colour purple. The tags were numbered less than 1000 all of which is in compliance with DFO and the community's fisheries management plans."
Sipekne'katik First Nation said no reason was given for the seizure of the traps.
Earlier in the day, the chief was on the wharf at the centre of the fishery and the controversy as a small fleet of boats headed out on the water.
"It's good to have some back up and hopefully it unites everybody across Canada," said Mike Sack, the chief of Sipekne'katik First Nation.
In the midst of a federal election, Archibald sent a message to Ottawa.
"Stop criminalizing our treaty rights. No more arrests. No more intimidation," Archibald said. "There is no excuse."
The day gave a boost to fishers who've experienced a rough few weeks.
As Sipekne'katik tries to fish outside of commercial season for what it says is its treaty right, DFO has responded by seizing traps, and at times making arrests.
"No more confiscation of lobster traps and gear," Archibald said. "You are taking food from our children's mouths."
Nine traps were dropped Thursday, bringing in 100 pounds of lobster.
A representative for commercial fisherman thinks DFO should act.
"I think DFO have an opportunity now to show good faith and make that determination whether that fishery is legal or not and act accordingly," said Dan Nadeau of the Maritime Fishermen's Union.