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Statement from Fisheries and Oceans Canada regarding lobster fishing in St. Marys Bay, Nova Scotia
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognizing rights, respect, collaboration, and partnership. As part of that commitment, we are working with First Nations harvesters so that they can exercise their Supreme Court-affirmed Treaty right to fish through various DFO-authorized fisheries. These fisheries include food, social and ceremonial (FSC), and communal commercial fisheries, including interim understandings reached to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood.
Many First Nations harvesters are exercising their right to fish FSC lobster in St. Marys Bay in southwestern Nova Scotia and our fishery officers are working with those communities to protect the rights of First Nations harvesters engaged in this fishery. Part of that protection is ensuring that the fishing complies with the Fisheries Act, and other associated regulations. As we do in all fisheries, our fishery officers are verifying gear for compliance, monitoring activities on and off the water and, where warranted, seizing gear and catch, and laying charges for violations under the Fisheries Act. Fishing activity occurring without a required licence or not in compliance with the conditions of the licence is subject to enforcement action.
We have allocated significant enforcement resources in St. Marys Bay. Since July 17, fishery officers have so far seized 464 traps in LFAs 33 and 34 for non-compliance with the Fisheries Act and associated regulations. On August 30, fishery officers arrested two individuals in Moncton, New Brunswick and seized over 8,000 lobster that came from southwest Nova Scotia, which were then released back into the ocean.
Ensuring a safe and orderly lobster fishery has to be a primary focus, and that is why DFO will continue working with all of our partners to that effect. We will continue to take action whenever unauthorized harvesting and other violations under the Fisheries Act are observed, while supporting the exercise of fishing rights.
Established seasons support this shared goal. Seasons help make sure predictability for all those participating in the fishery, as well as for other fleets and industries, and reduces gear conflict among fisheries operating in the same geographic area. The timing of season openings also help ensure that the benefits of the inshore lobster fishery are distributed broadly to Indigenous and coastal communities across Atlantic Canada.
We urge all parties to emphasize the importance of safety and patience during this tense period. We will continue to work with all those involved in lobster fisheries – non-Indigenous and Indigenous – to responsibly manage this socially, historically and economically important species.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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