PortandTerminal.com, October 17, 2020
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – A large fire completely destroyed a First Nations (Mi’kmaq) lobster pound, in Middle West Pubnico, N.S. early Saturday morning.
Jonathan LeBlanc, fire chief for Eel Brook & District Fire Department said that between 80 and 100 firefighters were on scene to deal with the blaze. While there has not been any official report of the cause of the fire yet, many in Nova Scotia believe that it was arson. LeBlanc though has said there is no way at this point to determine the cause of the fire, given the extent of the damage.
“When we arrived, the building was fully involved and was beyond saving at that point,”
Why do many suspect arson?
The blaze follows two attacks by local fishermen on lobster pounds in southwest Nova Scotia earlier this week protesting the moderate livelihood fishery launched by Sipekne’katik First Nation last month.
The two raids in New Edinburgh and Middle West Pubnico came after weeks of simmering tensions in the province’s southwest, sparked by the launch of a moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne’katik band outside the federally mandated commercial season.
In one raid, a mob of hundreds of local commercial fishermen and their supporters raided and vandalized two facilities in southwest Nova Scotia where Mi’kmaw fishermen were storing their catches.
RCMP confirmed in a news release that about 200 people were present at two incidents Tuesday night outside lobster pounds in southwestern Nova Scotia, during which employees were prevented from leaving, rocks were thrown and a vehicle was set on fire.
“Moderate Livelihood” Rights
The Miꞌkmaq are a First Nations people indigenous to the areas now known as Canada’s Atlantic Provinces and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec as well as the northeastern region of Maine.
Lobster fishing is tightly regulated in Nova Scotia. Normally, fishermen require a license and are only allowed to fish for lobster during their region’s allocated season each year.
A 1999 Supreme Court decision affirmed that First Nations people on the East Coast had a right to hunt, gather and fish to earn “a moderate livelihood” and fish outside of normal lobster seasons. That decision has upset local Acadian fishermen who say the new Indigenous fishery threatens their livelihoods by depleting lobster stock.
With reporting by CBC and CTV Canada
Copyright © 2020 PortandTerminal.com