Lobster riots erupt in Nova Scotia, First Nation fishermen targeted

Lobster riots erupt in Nova Scotia, First Nation fishermen targeted

A war is escalating in the normally-sleepy province of Nova Scotia, with dramatic footage coming out of the province on Tuesday night showing a fisherman's truck engulfed in a blaze.

Commercial fishermen in Nova Scotia have been accused of inciting riots against First Nation fishers, who recently opened a self-regulating lobster trapping fleet in Saulnierville, on the far west coast of the province. 

Some non-Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia are outraged that the Sipekne'katik First Nation launched its self-managed commercial fishery, citing the end of the fishing season. But First Nations leaders point to the 1999 Marshall Decision, a court ruling which affirmed the rights of First Nations to earn a "moderate livelihood" from fishing and trapping. 

Non-Indigenous fishermen don't acknowledge the decision, and call the establishment of the Sipekne'katik fishery "illegal."

On Tuesday night, "hundreds" of non-Indigenous commercial fishers mobbed the lobster pound in West Pubnico, trapping two Indigenous fishermen who were storing their catch inside.

Jason Marr, a Mik'Maw fisher, live-streamed his barricade inside the facility on his Facebook.

“I’ve got myself barricaded in the lobster pound here,” He said during his stream. “There’s a couple a hundred non-Natives out there. They talked the cops into forcibly letting them take my lobsters. They’ve destroyed my van. There’s a couple hundred of them out there.”

Marr also says in the stream, "The police says we should leave and let them take my lobsters. I told them I'm not letting them take my lobsters. 

A worker at the West Pubnico pound told CBC they had allowed Marr and the other Indigenous fishermen inside, and watched the mob destroy the property. 

"The way that they acted, that was not a peaceful protest. That was an angry mob trying to burn our building down and trying to ruin it. They ruined our building." Brendon Coulstring of Yarmouth said, adding "They cut the power in the building so that the lobsters in the tank wouldn't get air and they didn't get air for about two hours."

In August, a Chinese businessman with a distribution plant in Belliveaus Cove, Nova Scotia, was convicted of illegally selling lobster purchased from Indigenous fishermen. Sheng Ren Zheng and his company, Guang Da International, were convicted after federal agents found microchipped lobsters among Zheng's commercial shipment heading for China.