Mi'kmaw fishery study to be completed by mid-May: Battiste

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Jaime Battiste tabled a study on the implementation of Mi'kmaq treaty fishing rights to support a moderate livelihood back in October. (CBC - image credit)
Jaime Battiste tabled a study on the implementation of Mi'kmaq treaty fishing rights to support a moderate livelihood back in October. (CBC - image credit)

A report into the implementation of Mi'kmaw treaty rights in support of a moderate livelihood fishery will be completed by next month, according to the MP for Sydney-Victoria Jaime Battiste.

Battiste launched the study in October on behalf of the standing committee on fisheries and oceans.

It includes testimony from Mi'kmaw scientists, fishermen, leaders and fishing associations, along with lawyers and academics.

"We heard testimony of all sides," said Battiste, the country's only Mi'kmaw MP.

"I can safely share that we heard from the Mi'kmaw scientists, we heard from Mi'kmaw fishermen, we heard from Mi'kmaw leaders, we heard from fishing associations. We heard from a vast number of people talking about what the current challenge was."

Battiste said the study will be completed in a few weeks or at least by mid-May.

Sipekne'katik First Nation was the first Mi'kmaq community to launch its own self-regulated, rights-based lobster fishery in September 2020.
Sipekne'katik First Nation was the first Mi'kmaq community to launch its own self-regulated, rights-based lobster fishery in September 2020.(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

As part of the committee process, the report must tabled in the House of Commons before it is released publicly.

Battiste said it contains "some really good recommendations," but was unable to elaborate at this point.

Earlier this week, Battiste had his first sit-down interview with Iain Rankin in Halifax after he became Nova Scotia premier in February.

"We did have a bit of a conversation of what might be coming in ... I have to be careful when I talk about that because we are basically weeks away from moving things forward," said Battiste.

Moderate livelihood fisheries

The study comes after several First Nations communities launched their own rights-based fisheries last year to mark the 21st anniversary of the historic Supreme Court of Canada Marshall decision that affirmed the Mi'kmaw right to fish for a "moderate livelihood," but failed to provide a definition of the term.

Last month, federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan said Ottawa will not license any treaty-based fishery in Atlantic Canada unless it operates within the commercial season.

Nova Scotia chiefs say those terms required for Fisheries and Oceans were imposed without adequate consultation or scientific justification.

Sipekne'katik First Nation was the first Mi'kmaw community to begin a self-regulated harvest last fall, sparking protests and violence along the province's southwestern coastline.

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