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Home » The Human Element » Video: Huge fire destroys lobster pound. Arson suspected

Video: Huge fire destroys lobster pound. Arson suspected

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.

Middle West Pubnico is a small French speaking Acadian fishing village (pop 2,450) in Nova Scotia.

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,”

Video posted to Twitter at around 1:30 a.m. shows the building going up in flames. (Twitter/Pierette d’Entremont)

Why do many suspect arson?

Commercial fishermen gather to protest outside of a lobster pound in New Edinburgh, Digby County, on Wednesday.
Commercial fishermen gather to protest outside of a lobster pound in New Edinburgh, Digby County, on Wednesday. The RCMP say they are investigating a disturbance at the pound from the evening before and are looking into allegations of theft, mischief and property damage.

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.

An angry mob of non-Indigenous lobster fishermen trapped two Mi’kmaw fishermen inside a lobster pound in West Pubnico, N.S. and set a van on fire on Oct. 13

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.

Dead lobster lay outside a pound in West Pubnico, Yarmouth County Wednesday morning. Commercial fishermen said the dead lobster, which also included rotted lobster, was inside the facility. Some were also undersized and egg-bearing. - Tina Comeau
Dead lobster lay outside a pound in West Pubnico, Yarmouth County Wednesday morning. Commercial fishermen said the dead lobster, which also included rotted lobster, was inside the facility. Some were also undersized and egg-bearing. – Tina Comeau

 

“Moderate Livelihood” Rights

Lobster fishing boat owned by a Mi’kmaw fisherman is shown after being destroyed by a fire in this Oct. 5, 2020 handout photo.

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

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