Female fishers place lobster traps

The London Free Press
Monday, May 8, 2000

BURNT CHURCH, N.B. Native fishers in northern New Brunswick are defying federal regulations and openly setting traps that break Ottawa's rules for the lobster fishery.

Traps were seized on Saturday but federal fisheries officers decided to bide their time yesterday as a small boat carrying three aboriginal women headed out on the choppy waters of Miramichi Bay to set lobster traps marked with tags issued by the Burnt Church First Nation.

One of the fishers, who goes by the Mi'kmaq name, Miigam'agan, said the women of the reserve intend to take their place alongside the men in defending the treaty right to fish for a moderate living.

"The women in the community are going to continue fishing," Miigam'agan said after she came ashore. "We feel it's our inherent right and we're not going to let anyone stop us."

Although the 10 traps set yesterday were not seized, native fishers believe it's only a matter of time before officers from the Department of Fisheries scoop up the wooden pots and impound them.

Fisheries spokesperson Andre-Marc Lanteigne confirmed yesterday the traps will be taken.

"Unauthorized fishing will not be accepted," he said.

"At the appropriate time we will be removing those traps. The last thing we want is a confrontation, but it's important that the Fisheries Act is upheld."