Fishers want compensation

The London Free Press
Saturday, December 16, 2000

HALIFAX. A native band in central Nova Scotia is suing Ottawa for seizing its boats and fishing equipment last summer. 

The Schubenacadie band, a Mi’kmaq reserve in Indian Brook, N.S., wants compensation for eight boats and about 2,000 traps taken by fisheries officers during the band’s self-regulated summer lobster fishery in St. Mary’s Bay. 

It’s asking the Federal Court to declare the Fisheries Act unconstitutional and to ban further seizures. 

The Fisheries Department has been working to regulate native fishing in the region since a Supreme Court decision last year that said natives have the right to a regulated commercial fishery. 

Chief Reg Maloney of the Schubenacadie band said yesterday no dollar amount has been attached to the claim. 

“We’re getting statements from all our fishermen as to what the dollar amount would be in terms of lost income.” 

The band says the Supreme Court has confirmed native fishing rights are legally binding treaties. 

Maloney said the band isn’t willing to recognize the federal government’s fishing agreements with natives, preferring to argue in court natives should share management of the fishery. 

“The federal government is bound to consult with us prior to imposing any kind of restrictions on us,” Maloney said. 

There have been numerous confrontations on the water between natives and fisheries officers.