Commercial fishermen granted intervenor status in First Nation fishery dispute

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Mi’kmaw harvesters from Potlotek First Nation took to the water on St. Peters Bay to launch a moderate livelihood fishery on Oct. 1, 2020.  (Brent Kelloway/CBC - image credit)
Mi’kmaw harvesters from Potlotek First Nation took to the water on St. Peters Bay to launch a moderate livelihood fishery on Oct. 1, 2020. (Brent Kelloway/CBC - image credit)

Commercial fishermen have won the right to intervene in a fishing dispute that has pitted Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton against the Nova Scotia government.

Potlotek and its chief, Wilbur Marshall, allege the province's Fish Buyers Licensing and Enforcement Regulations are in violation of the band's right to a moderate livelihood fishery as guaranteed by the Supreme Court of Canada.

The regulations stipulate that only those who possess a valid fishing licence from the federal government are entitled to sell their catch.

Potlotek's self-regulated fishery, which began in the fall of 2020, has been conducted outside federal regulations.

The band launched its legal challenge to the provincial regulations in April. The Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance asked for intervenor status.

In a decision released Thursday, Justice Kevin Coady of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court granted the UFCA's request.

Last month, the UFCA was granted intervenor status in a similar lawsuit Potlotek has launched against the federal government. In that case, Potlotek is asking for a court ruling preventing the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans from interfering in its moderate livelihood fishery.

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