KMK: Fishing boat seized by DFO last month still not returned
December 19, 2022
The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs are frustrated over recent seizure of a fishing boat and gear by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
Over a month ago, Craig Doucette, a harvester from Potlotek First Nation, fishing under their Netukulimk livelihood fishery plan, had his boat and gear seized by DFO’s Conservation and Protection (C & P) agency. Although Doucette was fishing according to the Potlotek’s community authorized plan, enforcement actions were still taken against him. To date, no charges have been laid, but Mr. Doucette’s boat and gear remain in DFO’s possession.
“DFO’s seizure has impeded a Mi’kmaw harvester’s opportunity to exercise his Supreme Court affirmed Treaty Right,” said Chief Gerald Toney, Fisheries Co-Lead for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs. “C & P’s decision to take away his ability to fish for a livelihood impacts his ability to provide for his family going into the holiday season.”
The Assembly questions what message DFO is trying to convey to harvesters by seizing gear and not pursuing charges.
“Craig Doucette has been left with no opportunity to fight for his Rights,” said Chief Wilbert Marshall, Potlotek First Nation and Fisheries Co-Lead for the Assembly. “C & P has yet to charge him, so he has no indication what they feel he did wrong. He was harvesting under our community plan. We need an answer on what C & P’s issue is.”
While the Netukulimk Livelihood Fishery is managed by the Mi’kmaw communities, all fishing gear, equipment, and supplies are purchased and owned by those harvesters who are undertaking and exercising their Supreme Court affirmed Treaty Right.
“Our people are fishing to better their lives and the lives of their families – and they have every right to do so,” said Chief Marshall.