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Searching for the meaning of ‘moderate livelihood’

It's been 20 years since the Supreme Court's Marshall decision, but First Nations say fisheries rights still not fully recognized

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The commercial fishery saved John Paul’s life in a lot of ways. The Mi’kmaw man is a captain of a vessel from Membertou First Nation, N.S..

The work gave him hope.

“Getting big cheques and feeling good,” the 41-year-old fisher said. “There was a lot of poverty in Membertou when I was a kid, too. It wasn’t like what it is today, that’s for sure.” He’s been fishing for 22 years.

John Paul and his crew of five men are getting the Too Thankful 10, a fire-engine-red vessel, ready for the start of the season. It’s the beginning of April and it’s cold and raining in Glace Bay, N.S., where their boat is docked. The crew of Mi’kmaw men are preparing their vessel for their 10-hour journey to collect their snow crab traps offshore. During the trip, John Paul’s wife, Pam, will text him the weather forecast from back home, twice a day.

Along Maillard Street sits the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre, and inside you can find Chief Terrance Paul’s office. On the second floor is a restaurant called Kiju’s. Across the street from the centre is Lanes at Membertou, a bowling alley. On the other side of Maillard Street is Membertou Entertainment Centre, where people play Bingo five nights a week. The homes in the community are a mix of old and new.

Chief Paul said Membertou is economically progressive. Last year, Membertou made $67,085,785 in revenues, and the commercial fishery accounted for $3,789,307 of that, according to publicly available financial statements.

“The fishery is a very small part of that and it could be a much larger part of the growth and economic growth in Membertou,” said Chief Paul, who is also John Paul’s father.

Membertou and 33 other First Nation communities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Québec operate a commercial fishery because of a landmark Supreme Court of Canada ruling, the Marshall decision, which affirmed the Indigenous treaty right to fish, sell the catch and make a “moderate livelihood” — but 20 years after the landmark ruling, that key term has never been defined, leaving uncertainty over the extent of the rights-based fishery.  

First Nations communities were given access to the commercial fishery with the help of funding from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans that provided training, licences and vessels. In exchange, the communities signed agreements that meant they operated their commercial fishery by DFO rules.

The Indigenous Fishery: The map shows each of the First Nations in the Maritime provinces. Click on the dots to see fisheries revenues for those who disclose the information in public financial statements. Not all First Nations disclose the information separately from other revenues, so a “-” entry may not mean there was no such income

Although the increased access to the commercial fishery has been positive for many communities in terms of economic opportunities, many feel the Marshall decision is incomplete because the moderate-livelihood fishery is not fully recognized by the DFO, unlike the commercial fisheries and fishing for food or ceremonial purposes. Fishers, fisheries directors and chiefs have been critical of how the federal government has handled the Marshall decision. Some have said they feel DFO is throwing money at communities instead of addressing the real issue.

The Indigenous commercial fishery is owned and managed by a band’s council. Each community that has an agreement with DFO has a different management plan for its fishery. For some communities, such as Membertou, a portion of revenue from the fishery goes back into the community towards things such as infrastructure. Other communities, such as the Eel Ground and Esgenoôpetitj First Nations in northern New Brunswick, issue licences to individual fishers, who see the benefits, and the community receives five or six per cent of the revenues or royalties. The commercial fishery under this model gives back to the community in different ways.

The Indigenous commercial fishery in Atlantic Canada — the communities that signed agreements with the DFO — generates about $110 million in gross revenue every year, according to a document from the National Indigenous Fisheries Institute. The Indigenous commercial fishery employs about 1,675 people; however, the document did not differentiate between harvesters and those who work in the processing sector.

That employment is a fraction of that in the overall fishery.

According to numbers from Statistics Canada from 2017, the total number of people employed in the commercial fishery — including processing and aquaculture — in Nova Scotia alone is 17,669, with 13,119 in the harvesting sector.

In Nova Scotia, the total sales of seafood exports were $2 billion in 2017, according to the province’s Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture’s 2018-19 business plan. In 2018, New Brunswick saw $1.7 billion in export sales.  

Jobs where jobs are scarce

Chief Alvery Paul of Esgenoôpetitj First Nation in New Brunswick sat at his kitchen table in Neguac, N.B., and pointed out the window behind him.

“I got a boat here and I bought that from my father-in-law. I hired three families on a boat, the captain and two deckhands, and it helps the whole family, like three families on there,” Chief Alvery said.

Esgenoôpetitj owns a seafood-processing plant in Caraquet, N.B., called Baie Chaleurs Fisheries, which employs 40 to 60 people, Chief Alvery said. And 60 per cent of those employees are Indigenous.  

“Those processing facilities also create additional jobs and additional revenues in those communities, where jobs are scarce basically, and provides pride in having a job,” said John G. Paul, executive director of the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs, the policy research and advocacy secretariat for Mi’kmaw, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy and Innu chiefs. 

Membertou’s band employs eight crews: 32 fishers, including John Paul and his men.

These jobs wouldn’t exist without Donald Marshall Jr.

Donald Marshall Jr.’s boats in Pomquet Harbour, Antigonish, N.S. (Photo courtesy of Chief Terry Paul)   Olivia Blackmore

‘Junior, keep fishing’

Driving the Cape Breton Shuttle along Kings Road in Sydney, the driver points out Wentworth Park. This is where Sandy Seale, a 17-year-old man, was murdered in 1971. Donald Marshall Jr., a Mi’kmaw man from Membertou, was with him that night. Marshall, who was also 17 at the time, was convicted of the murder and spent 11 years in prison before being acquitted in 1983 by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

In 1989, a royal commission report found that Marshall’s charges and conviction were based on racism from the police, prosecutors, judge and — ultimately — the justice system that found him guilty.

“The tragedy of the failure is compounded by evidence that this miscarriage of justice could — and should — have been prevented, or at least corrected quickly if those involved in the system had carried out their duties in a professional and/or competent manner,” the inquiry said. “That they did not is due, in part at least, to the fact that Donald Marshall, Jr. is a Native.”

In 1993, a decade after his wrongful murder conviction, Marshall was charged again. But this time it was for fishing and selling eels he caught in Pomquet Harbour in Antigonish without a licence.

“(Marshall) strongly believed that we had a right to fish for food and to be able to make a half-decent income from the fishery to help support your family,” said Chief Paul.

After Marshall got out of prison, he did a lot of fishing, Chief Paul said. Marshall knew he could make money selling his catch under his treaty right. The DFO kept telling him he wasn’t allowed to fish without a licence or tags, but did not want to press charges because they knew who he was, Chief Paul said.

After several conversations with Marshall’s lawyer, Bruce Wildsmith, about how they should proceed, Chief Paul told Marshall, “Junior, keep fishing.”

Chief Paul, who was a close friend of Marshall, remembers his conversations with Marshall before the DFO charged him. Marshall did not want to go through another trial, Chief Paul said. He was afraid of what the justice system would do to him — again.

“But he also accepted the fact that he would be the best person,” Chief Paul said. “I remember…me saying to him, I just can see the federal government, the people that make the decisions, even the court system, the Supreme Court judges, when (Marshall’s) case comes across their tables they’re going to say ‘Oh no, oh no,’ — and that’s what they did.”

The memories bring tears to Chief Paul’s eyes.  

DFO officers called Chief Paul when they stopped Marshall in Pomquet Harbour.

“I said, ‘charge us, charge us,’ and I could even hear him repeating to the other officers in the room, saying, ‘He wants us to charge him. He wants us to charge him,’” Chief Paul said. “I said, ‘Let’s get this over with; charge us; let’s go to court because we feel that we have a right to fish.’”

Marshall lost in the lower courts but appealed his case to the Supreme Court of Canada in the late 1990s. The Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision. Marshall’s lawyers argued that he had the right to sell fish to make a living under the 1760 and 1761 Peace and Friendship Treaties between the Mi’kmaq and the British.

The accused’s treaty rights are limited to securing ‘necessaries’ (which should be construed in the modern context as equivalent to a moderate livelihood), and do not extend to the open-ended accumulation of wealth,” the ruling said.

“Catch limits that could reasonably be expected to produce a moderate livelihood for individual Mi’kmaw families at present-day standards can be established by regulation and enforced without violating the treaty right.”

Chief Paul was at a meeting for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Chiefs in Halifax when one of the assembly’s lawyers got off the phone with Marshall’s lawyers, who were at the Supreme Court in Ottawa. When everyone heard that the Supreme Court had sided with Marshall, silence filled the room, Chief Paul said. He felt a rush of emotion go through his body. “We finally did it, we won’t be going hungry anymore…[we can] be a part of the economy,” he remembers saying.

But Chief Paul knew that there was still work to be done and that any changes that would come to the commercial fishery to include Indigenous people would take time.

“We knew we had a responsibility, big responsibility, and that we need to regulate and organize ourselves and work with the government, work with society, work with people,” Chief Paul said. “So that’s what we’ve been trying to do ever since.”

For many, including John Paul, the decision has always felt incomplete.

“We don’t know what a moderate livelihood is,” John Paul said. “We can’t go get a boat and go fish without (DFO) coming and busting our gear up, you know what I mean? And then we’ll end up in court.”

Edwin Christmas, Paul’s first mate, assists in getting Too Thankful 10 ready for the fishing season in Glace Bay, N.S. (Photo by: Olivia Blackmore)   Olivia Blackmore

A moderate livelihood

Shortly after the ruling, the court explained what it meant by a moderate livelihood in a clarification of the Marshall decision, known as Marshall II, on Nov. 17, 1999. Some communities had immediately started fishing out of season, which caused tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers.

“The federal and provincial governments have the authority within their respective legislative fields to regulate the exercise of a treaty right where justified on conservation or other grounds,” the clarification said.

But using the term “moderate livelihood” was distinguishing it from the non-Indigenous commercial fishery, where the objective, you could say, was the creation of wealth, said Bruce Wildsmith, Marshall’s former lawyer.

“(Non-Indigenous) fishermen would fish for their wealth as much as you could acquire from the licensing that they had. So there was a limit on equipment and seasons and things, but there was no limit on dollars that could be earned, for example, from the lobster fishery,” Wildsmith said.

But a moderate livelihood, Wildsmith said, had an upper limit and the goal wasn’t to accumulate a lot of money, but to provide a livelihood “at a certain level.”

“So when I said there hasn’t been any livelihood fishery, it’s because all of the fisheries that were provided to the Mi’kmaq were through commercial licences,” Wildsmith said.

Indigenous fishers who participate in the commercial fishery are given commercial communal licences. These licences are different from non-Indigenous licences because they are allocated to the band by the government, which then decides who can fish those licences for the benefit of the community.

“There’s no limit on how much wealth you could say that community could obtain from those licences. But of course, there is a limit on how many people could benefit from (it),” Wildsmith said.

Until recently, there had been no official mandate from the government to define a moderate livelihood fishery.

In November 2017, Dominic LeBlanc, the minister of fisheries, appointed Jim Jones — an independent consultant who was also a regional director general for DFO from 1998 to 2009 — to negotiate with Mi’kmaw and Maliseet First Nations and the Peskotomuhkati, towards the “reconciliation of fisheries rights,” according to a DFO press release. Part of the negotiations includes finding the definition of a moderate livelihood.

It’s the second time since the Marshall decision that DFO has appointed a federal negotiator to discuss commercial fisheries access with First Nations in Atlantic Canada, according to an article from Ku’ku’kwes News.

“I just know it’s not right. There’s something there they don’t want to deal with,” said John Paul about the time it’s taken DFO to enter negotiations with First Nations about a moderate livelihood.

“They don’t want to give it any more power than it already has.”

Chris Milley is an adjunct professor in the marine affairs program at Dalhousie University. His research has focused on the Marshall decision and its implementation. He believes DFO doesn’t want to address the moderate livelihood question, for several reasons.

“How do you tell somebody how much you’re allowed to make?” Milley said. “How do you make those decisions? But you can’t, no government wants to do that. It’s … not ethical. It’s definitely not politically smart.”

The number is either going to be too high or too low, Milley said.

“What about if the resource can only sustain an income of $10,000. Is $10,000 a moderate livelihood?” he said. “’Moderate’ should never have been in the decision. It should have been ‘livelihood.’”

At the moment, DFO recognizes two types of Indigenous fisheries: food, social and ceremonial, and the communal commercial. The food fisheries are to provide food for individuals in the community and it’s not meant to be sold. Communal commercial licences are for selling catch, and the community and/or employee, or those who subcontract the licence, earn the money, Wildsmith said.

Hubert Nicholas, Membertou’s director of fisheries, said he believes DFO has the feeling that the problem has been addressed with the funding.

“‘It’s not overly concerning: we’ll just keep throwing money at it every year and the First Nation people just shut up after a while,’ But that’s not the case,” said Nicholas. “‘Here’s more money … try to get yourself to where you want to be under the commercial access commercial fisheries.’ But that’s not what’s happening, right? It’s not enough money to begin with. The rights are not being recognized.”

For Nicholas, a moderate livelihood means that every Mi’kmaw person can provide their family with food, clothing and shelter — the necessities of life — in the fishery.

“If you just use $70,000 as a rough estimate, when you times that by the 15,000 Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia, there’s your rough estimate of what your revenue should be each year,” Nicholas said. “My thought is if we were to ever reach true moderate livelihood for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia, we would own every single licence there is a Nova Scotia, every single commercial access licence.”

The total yearly revenue, using the above calculation, would be a shade above $1 billion.

A complicated question

What a moderate livelihood means to Curtis Falls, fisheries director for Acadia First Nation, is a complicated question.

“I can’t really define a moderate livelihood,” Falls said. “I keep tripping over my own thoughts on that kind of stuff because I mean, you can’t think of it in terms of total revenue, because you know, if you’re fishing, running an efficient operation, if I make $100,000 say, then 50 or 60 per cent of that could be eaten up in overhead, you know, gear, bait, fuel, boat payments.”

Falls has been in the commercial fishery for 20 years and he knows how much the market can fluctuate, so putting a number on it is complex; it’s all relative, he said.

“I think we really got to be careful with that, because it’s more complicated than that. You know, when the courts throw it out, it’s like ‘define what a moderate livelihood is,’” Falls said. “Is $50,000, $60,000 enough? Is it like that? Well, it doesn’t quite work like that.”

Leo Bartibogue, a fisher from Esgenoôpetitj, said that although his community sees royalties from the fish-processing plant, not everyone benefits from the fishery. Bartibogue said he was one of the first people from his community to set lobster traps in Miramichi Bay in 1999.

“But the way I look at it here is we do have a high rate of unemployment, and it’s a small-knit community of 1,800 people, maybe 2,000. Everybody knows everybody. So what comes with lack of jobs? Not everybody is a fisherman,” said Bartibogue, who also works as a drug and alcohol director at Work Links. “So there’s a lot of things that people turn to, especially young people, which is drugs and alcohol.”

Chief Alvery said he doesn’t know how exactly to define a moderate livelihood, but he is sure of one thing.

“We can’t let the government decide it; we can’t let DFO decide it,” Chief Alvery said. “It’s our moderate livelihood; it’s our fisheries. So we have to define it ourselves.”

Chief Paul said that the DFO should not be the regulator of the moderate livelihood fishery, but that Mi’kmaw people would like to work them on accomplishing that.

“We still feel that we need to be able to fish under our fishing rights as they were confirmed in the Supreme Court decision,” Chief Paul said. “So we are working hard to accomplish that where we’re able to have a rights-related fishery and that itself needs to be regulated and we’re the people who want to regulate that.”

Wildsmith, who is the legal advisor for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs, said in an email that what is being negotiated in terms of regulations of the moderate livelihood fishery is “the Mi’kmaq would determine their view of appropriate terms and seek DFO concurrence. Co-management.”

“What’s the number?”

Defining moderate livelihood doesn’t only impact First Nations.

Kevin Squires, president of Local 6 Maritime Fishermen’s Union in Cape Breton, said non-Indigenous commercial fishers want a moderate livelihood defined, too.

“People would like to know what are we looking at: what’s the number? What’s the time period? What’s the process?” he said in a phone interview.

“But then the other one, when you start digging into it: what’s it based on? Is it based on all First Nations in the country? Is it based on all First Nations within the provinces, within coastal communities? Is it going to be proportionate to what one might expect the general population participation in the fishery is?”

Squires said that the lack of information about what’s happening in the DFO negotiations with First Nations and what it will mean for non-Indigenous commercial fishers is worrisome. But he understands that those negotiations are between government and government.

“I’m looking at trying to retire. Do I have to think about selling out at some point? But (would I) be better off selling it this year or can I wait five years? Is my licence going to be worth something?” Squires said.

Squires said that the sooner people in leadership positions in the non-Indigenous commercial fishery can be prepared for what comes out of the negotiations, the better.

“Then we can talk to our members about it and try to explain the fact that aboriginal licences are different than our licences. They are allowed to operate different ways,” Squires said. “People don’t have to like it, but you can deliver the explanation as opposed to finding this out at a meeting with somebody hollering and complaining.”

Tensions have flared in the past between Indigenous and non-Indigenous fishers. In Burnt Church, right after the Marshall decision, violence broke out. Indigenous boats were rammed by non-Indigenous commercial fishers, even attacking two Indigenous fishers with a baseball bat out of fear of Indigenous fishers taking their traps, according to a report by the Canadian Press from 2001. The clashes lasted three years and ended in 2002 when then Chief Wilbur Dedam signed a two-year deal with the DFO which would provide millions in funding, the Canadian Press reported in 2002.

In September 2000, ten days shy of the first anniversary of the decision, 200 non-Indigenous fishers protested in Yarmouth, N.S. They claimed that Indigenous fishers setting traps out of season would deplete the resource and be outside of DFO’s regulations, the Canadian Press reported.

Two sets of rules

Chris Milley, the adjunct professor at Dalhousie whose research has focused on the Marshall decision and its implementation, said it’s possible to have two sets of rules — one for commercial and one for a moderate livelihood fishery— in the same place.

“If somebody’s out fishing 25 traps all year round, people who have 350 traps for four months for some reason think, ‘That person has an advantage over me,’” Milley said. “It’s like ‘Why?’ ‘Well, they can fish all year round.’ Yes, but they’re fishing 25 traps even at the most abundant time.”

The objective of the commercial fishery for DFO is to maximize revenue, Milley said.

“If Mi’kmaw objectives are the same way, then it would make sense to move into the same system, but Mi’kmaw objectives are about moderate livelihood. (They’re) very different objectives,” Milley said.

“The way the Fisheries Act is … it isn’t conducive to working with communities. The minister cannot delegate his authority,” Milley said. “Clearly First Nations will never manage under the Fisheries Act because the Fisheries Act does not allow it. So how do you do that?”

He thinks a parallel department could help. Having multiple departments under one ministry is not uncommon, Milley said. The Ministry of Innovation, Sciences and Economic Development Canada, for example, has four departments.

“There are multiple ways to doing it,” said Milley. “The chiefs shouldn’t be doing things on a provincial basis. It should be on a nationwide basis.” 

The Signal sent DFO a list of detailed questions about the negotiations surrounding a moderate livelihood, why it’s taken 20 years to negotiate the definition and how much is DFO willing to do in allowing First Nations to regulate the moderate-livelihood fishery. DFO responded with an emailed statement.

“From DFO’s perspective, there have been many initiatives that are implementing the pursuit of ‘moderate livelihood.’ Since 2000, DFO has provided commercial fisheries access to First Nations communities in Nova Scotia through its programs and through negotiated agreements and has worked closely with all communities,” the statement said.

The DFO said that it has created a number of programs that have helped build fishing capacity, management and performance of the Indigenous commercial fishery. These initiatives have increased First Nation’s participation in the commercial fisheries, the statement said.  

Since 1999 the government has allocated close to $600 million into the Indigenous commercial fishery. The federal government invested $159.6 million in initial agreements in 2000. That number grew to $430.2 million in 2001, with the longer-term agreements.

In 2007, the DFO launched the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative, which helps Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations continue to build on the initiatives taken after the Marshall decision and “to continue to support an integrated, orderly commercial fishery in the Maritimes and Quebec.”

The initiative was initially a five-year program, but became a permanent program after it was announced in 2017 federal budget that the government was investing $11.02 million in the program, per year, according to the DFO.

“We recognize that there is more work to do. That is why DFO is a willing and active partner at the Mi’kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada negotiations table, where we are working collaboratively with the Mi’kmaq to continue to discuss their interests around pursuing a ‘moderate livelihood,’” the statement said.

“As negotiations are ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

A mandate to talk

Milley said that the reason it’s taken so long for negotiations to happen concerning a moderate livelihood is that the government never had the mandate to do so. This changed when the Liberal government was elected. 

Milley said that the Liberal government’s mandate on reconciliation with Indigenous people is largely due to the acceptance of the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“It’s got nothing to do with Marshall [and] everything to do with the new priority.”

Several sources for this story said they’ve seen a positive change when it came to the government trying to address the Marshall decision since the Liberals included reconciliation in their mandate.  

The Fisheries Act, the law containing rules that regulate the commercial fishery, makes no mention of the Marshall decision or a moderate livelihood. However, in February 2018, new proposed amendments to the act were announced, which includes changes that would address reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Jordan Paul, and Myles Paul, deckhands from Membertou First Nation. (Photo by: Olivia Blackmore)   Olivia Blackmore

‘It was all about control’

Wildsmith wonders what the Marshall decision really meant to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

“It seemed like it wasn’t fully accepted on the face of it; on the face of it, Mi’kmaq had the right to go fish, period,” Wildsmith said.  

“But from the DFO standpoint, ‘No, we have the right to regulate. We’re continuing to regulate. Nobody without a licence really has the right to engage in these fisheries activities. If you do engage in these fisheries activities without a licence, we consider that illegal and we’re going to stop it and prosecute it,’” he said.

Bartibogue said he remembers when the decision was announced and what it meant for his community.

“We wanted our kids to fit in schools and start living…with good clothing and start sustaining our people. So, you know, that was one way of trying to sustain our community was with the new ruling that came out,” said Bartibogue, who also works as a drug and alcohol director at Work Links. “But it was short lived.”

On Oct. 3, 1999, about 150 non-Indigenous fishing boats headed into the bay in protest of the ruling that enabled Indigenous fishers to harvest out of season, according to a CBC article from 2004. 

The crisis in Burnt Church persisted for a few years, and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Herb Dhaliwal, hired politician Bob Rae to negotiate with Esgenoôpetitj leaders. The DFO proposed interim agreements, but the First Nation community initially refused to sign. The chief at the time, Wilbur Dedam, finally signed an agreement with the DFO, ending the crisis.

“It was like a war out there,” Bartibogue said. But no one got hurt.

According to legal documents, Bartibogue and eight other men were charged for violating the Fisheries Act in May 2000. Most of the charges were obstructing a fisheries officer performing their duties. Bartibogue said that he tried to prevent a fisheries officers who were trying to take their traps and that he asked the officer not to touch the traps.

The judge promised a fair trial after Bartibogue voiced his concerns about having a non-Indigenous prosecutor and judge, while he couldn’t afford a lawyer. Because Bartibogue’s charges were under the Fisheries Act, and a conviction would most likely not lead to jail time, he did not qualify for legal aid and would have to pay for his own representation, the decision said. Bartibogue’s case was complex because it had to do with treaty rights and would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, the document said.

“So I told him, how can I (have a fair trial), when I can’t even have a representative here with me, I can’t afford one. And we’re the ones who are supposed to make some sort of a moderate livelihood,” Bartibogue said.

“(Moderate livelihood) was not happening because they weren’t allowing us to make (money). It was all about control.”

The trial judge decided that to have a fair trial, Bartibogue would need government-funded legal representation and that the proceedings could only move forward when counsel could be provided. Bartibogue’s case was appealed by the Crown. The appeal judge cited the Marshall II decision.

The Crown’s appeal was granted and Bartibogue’s case went back to court, where he plead not guilty, he said.

In September 2015, four Mi’kmaw men faced similar fisheries charges. 

Alex Macdonald, his son, Kyle Macdonald, Mark Howe, and Jeremy Syliboy, were charged with fisheries violations for commercial fishing during closed season in Lobster Fishing Area 34 (LFA34) and possessing lobster that was either purchased illegally or with the intention of selling, according to Ku’ku’kwes News.

The men pleaded not guilty.

When the fishermen’s lawyer asked fishery officer Dwayne Muise if the closed time for LFA 34 includes those Mi’kmaw fishermen who choose to fish for a moderate livelihood, Muise answered, ‘There’s no regulation to deal with moderate livelihood right now,’” Ku’ku’kwes reported.

The Crown attorney, after a day of testimony, asked the judge for a stay of proceedings; halting any further legal process, Ku’ku’kwes’ article said.

As of March 2019, the men are suing the DFO for racial profiling.

 

Editor's Note: This story is being published in collaboration with https://kukukwes.com/ Additional editorial supervision of this project by Maureen Googoo.

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