Dispute looms over salmon fishing in N.B.

National Post, with files from The Canadian Press
October 10, 2000

Days after Mi'kmaq Natives in New Brunswick put away their lobster traps, following a series of confrontations with federal conservation authorities over Native fishing rights, there are fears of renewed squabbles -- this time over Atlantic salmon.

Fisheries officers seized a half-ton truck and 13 salmon from two Burnt Church men last week. The enforcement action was denounced by the band spokesman, who urged Natives to ignore federal salmon fishing rules.

"Go fish," Lloyd Augustine told band members during the holiday weekend. "Use our policies, our management plan. We will get [fishing] tags for you."

Under federal rules, the band is allowed to catch 416 salmon using up to 13 gillnets between July 1 and Oct. 22. The run generally starts its migration up the Tabusintac River in mid-September.

Mr. Augustine said now the lobster season is over, Natives will turn their attention to salmon. He said the band will run its own management plan, ignoring federal regulations designed to protect stocks.

But Bob Allain, a spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, called the seizures an isolated event and said they were not necessarily the start of a new battle over fishing rights similar to the one on Miramichi Bay last summer.

"We're hoping this is not going to be yet another confrontation," he said.

The salmon poaching case has been forwarded to federal lawyers, who have not yet decided whether charges will be laid.