Burnt Church natives vow to regulate own lobster fishery

Canadian Press
Tuesday, April 4, 2000

BURNT CHURCH, N.B. The Burnt Church reserve will impose its own regulations on native lobster fishermen when they hit the water soon for the spring season.

The reserve, during a band meeting Tuesday, rejected an offer from the Maritime Fishermen's Union to replace about 3,000 native lobster traps destroyed by non-natives last October.
Band spokesman Lloyd Augustine said the offer was rejected because it came with the condition that natives would be required to follow federal regulations when the spring season begins May 1.

Augustine and James Ward, two Burnt Church residents hired by the band, presented a draft fisheries policy during the band meeting.

They said the policy will be based on conservation and the band will set a natural resources tribunal to regulate fishermen.

Tensions have been high between natives and non-natives since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled last September that aboriginals have the right to earn a moderate living from the fishery.

Ward said he expects federal Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal will reject the policy, but the band will impose its nonetheless.

''They will reject this ... regardless of the policy or how (good) it is,'' he said. ''It's a matter of control.''

The meeting was held on the day two members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, a Mennonite and Quaker organization, arrived in Burnt Church to observe the spring fishery.

Janet Shoemaker of Toronto and Lena Siegers of Blyth, Ont., attended the early part of the meeting before they were asked to leave.

Shoemaker and Siegers said they came to the reserve to listen, act as witnesses and present native concerns to government and the public.

''We try to think of creative ways to put pressure on people in power who are oppressing,'' Shoemaker said.

The two intend to set up a camper trailer near the community wharf and talk to native and non-natives until the season closes at the end of June.{ au: