Sipekne'katik finds buyer for lobster harvested under commercial licences

·2 min read

The First Nation in Nova Scotia that's faced violence related to its moderate livelihood fishery says it has found a buyer for its commercial lobster.

The Sipekne'katik Band has been trying to unload thousands of kilograms of lobster harvested by the band under commercial licences it holds in an area of the Bay of Fundy where the season is open.

"I think everyone's happy it didn't go to waste … and everyone is happy that we moved those," said Sipekne'katik Chief Mike Sack.

He said the band is getting about $11 per pound for the crustaceans.

Buyer not identified

The buyer is not being identified.

"A local person from the Atlantic bubble, they wish to remain unnamed just due to the sensitivity of the whole nature, but we're very grateful that they were able to do that for us and get us out of a jam,'' said Sack.

Last week a local processor, Bruce Gidney of Gidney Fisheries, declined to buy the lobster, saying he could not be sure of the quality or if it was mixed with lobster caught in the band's newly launched moderate livelihood fishery. That fishery is taking place in St. Mary's Bay where the commercial season is closed.

The band says its been frozen out by the commercial industry after angry, sometimes violent, protests in the area by non-Indigenous fishermen and their supporters.

Sipekne'katik is exercising a treaty right recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada 21 years ago, but its moderate livelihood fishery is not licensed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, a requirement for lobster buyers under provincial law.

Gidney said he isn't rejecting Sipekne'katik and is willing to buy lobster from Sipekne'katik boats fishing under commercial licence in Lobster Fishing Area 35, where the season is open.

Talks resume Wednesday

The issue is moot for a few weeks.

Sipekne'katik has moved its three commercial boats to Saulnierville in St. Marys Bay to support the moderate livelihood fishery it launched last month.

Talks between the band and DFO over its moderate livelihood fishery will resume Wednesday.

Chief Sack said he hopes to find a buyer for lobster harvested under commercial licences it holds in another part of southwest Nova Scotia where the lobster season opens next month.

"Hopefully, we get a buyer secure for the next season that's coming up in LFA 34," he said.