DFO denies salmon seizure means new round in fishing dispute

CBC News Online
Monday, October 09, 2000

BURNT CHURCH, N.B. - The lobster fishery may be closed, but the battles between the Mi'kmaq of Burnt Church and the federal government aren't yet over.

The Mi'kmaq pulled lobster traps out of the water on Miramichi Bay on Saturday, bringing to an end months of conflict as the natives struggled with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to assert their right to govern their own fishery.

But on Sunday, DFO officers seized a pickup truck and 13 salmon from natives, signalling the next round in the dispute may well be fought over Atlantic salmon.

A fisheries spokesman said the seizure was an isolated incident, and did not necessarily signal a new showdown.

However, a band spokesman said native fishermen should go ahead and fish without government licences, ignoring government rules.

The Burnt Church band is allowed by the government to use 13 gill nets to catch up to 416 salmon between July 1 and Oct. 22.

The natives say last year's Marshall decision at the Supreme Court affirms their treaty right to manage the fishery how they see fit to do so.