Millbrook sets sail into future New vessel launched as band negotiates fishing deal with Ottawa 

By BRIAN MEDEL – Yarmouth Bureau
Halifax Herald
Friday, May 11, 2001

Millbrook Chief Lawrence Paul stands at the helm of the band’s new $800,000 fishing vessel, the Chief Lawrence Paul. The boat was launched Thursday in Wedgeport, Yarmouth County. Brian Medel – Yarmouth Bureau

Wedgeport.With the Millbrook First Nation preparing to sign a new three-year fishing agreement with Ottawa, Chief Lawrence Paul watched with pride Thursday as his wife Jane christened the Chief Lawrence Paul fishing boat on the shores of Goose Bay. 

The first vessel to be built from scratch for the Millbrook band is a high-tech work of art by LeBlanc Bros. Ltd., a Wedgeport boat shop. 

“It’s a wonderful boat and I think the Millbrook First Nation can be quite proud of it,” Chief Paul said. 

“This vessel is worth approximately $800,000. It’s a multi-purpose vessel for snow crabs, scallops, tuna fishing, swordfish.” 

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans provided $600,000 of the money needed to build the boat under an interim fishery agreement the band signed last year. 

As for the new fishing agreement, it hasn’t been signed yet, “but we’re quite close,” Chief Paul said. 

“We’re going to meet with (federal negotiator) Mr. (James) MacKenzie again the latter part of May, and if everything goes well then, we’ll probably be inking the agreement for another three years.” 

Chief Paul wouldn’t be more specific about what the deal is worth to the Millbrook band. 

“When you’re in negotiations . . . it’s better not to say too much,” he said. 

But it is believed the deal will be worth more than $8 million a year to the band. 

Chief Paul said the agreement won’t affect treaty rights. 

“It’s outside of the treaty. This interim agreement is put in place especially to provide training, employment and gear for band membership and also to keep non-violent access to the waters. We fish under DFO rules and regulations. We fish in season. We fish the same way as the non-Indian commercial fishermen. 

“Millbrook First Nation has a good relationship with non-native commercial fishermen.” 

The new 18-metre fishing boat is communally owned. 

“I didn’t really think they were going to name this vessel after me,” Chief Paul said. 

His name graces both sides and there is a depiction of a man in full aboriginal headdress. 

Most of the Millbrook band’s fishing will be done on the Eastern Shore with the exception of scallops, which will be fished in the upper Bay of Fundy. 

The band also fishes lobster. 

“We’re fishing lobsters out of Sheet Harbour at this time,” the chief said. “We have two boats fishing out of Joggins and we have two boats fishing out of Caribou.” 

The band has no plans to fish in southwestern Nova Scotia. 

“The Pictou area is about 30 minutes away from Millbrook and Sheet Harbour’s a little over an hour away so we don’t want to fish way down here in St. Mary’s Bay,” Chief Paul said. “It’s too far away. 

“I think for the time being, we’ll be fishing (the Chief Lawrence Paul) out of Port Bickerton.” 

After a $1.5-million wharf is finished at Sheet Harbour, the boat will berth there, he said. 

The Millbrook First Nation now has about 12 vessels, 10 purchased with DFO help and two bought outright. 

The band would like to operate 15 boats, the chief said. Some 42 men and women work in the varied Millbrook fisheries.