Fewer fishing deals likely

The Daily Gleaner
Monday, April 9, 2001

YARMOUTH, N.S. Ottawa’s chief negotiator with East Coast native fishermen says it’s unlikely the government will sign as many fisheries deals with Mi’kmaq bands as it did last year. 

Thirty of 34 native bands in Atlantic Canada signed fishing agreements last year that provided about $200 million in licences, fishing equipment and training to the natives. 

But Ottawa’s lead negotiator says this year natives are more reluctant. 

“I don’t think we’ll get as many as we got last year,” Jim McKenzie said Saturday. 

He was speaking during a panel discussion with fishermen. 

In 1999 the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Marshall case that natives have a treaty right to a moderate livelihood from fishing. 

Ever since that decision, Ottawa has been attempting to hammer out agreements that assist the Mi’kmaq in entering the fishery. 

Federal Fisheries Minister Herb Dhaliwal issued a statement last week saying talks were proceeding.”

It is important to understand that signed agreements are not necessary to have a peaceful, orderly fishery this summer,” he said. 

Every fall since the Marshall decision has seen dangerous confrontations on Miramichi Bay and St. Mary’s Bay in Nova Scotia between native fishermen, federal fisheries officers and, occasionally, non-native fishermen.