Several dozen lobster fishermen gathered outside a federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) office in southwestern Nova Scotia on Monday to continue their protest over what they say is an illegal Indigenous commercial fishery.
Bernie Berry of the Coldwater Lobster Association said about 50 protesters were in Digby to keep pressure on DFO officials to enforce regulations concerning the sale of lobster caught outside the regular season by Indigenous fishermen.
The protesters say some Indigenous fishermen are taking unfair advantage of their right to continue fishing outside of the regular commercial season, which ended May 31.
In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling – the Sparrow decision – that found Indigenous Peoples have the right to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes.
However, federal regulations clearly state that commercial sales from these fisheries are prohibited.
David Whorley, area director for the Fisheries Department, says officials are enforcing the regulations, adding that investigators have found at least a dozen sites spread across the region where lobsters have been dumped in wooded areas.
He calls the discoveries very worrying.
“It’s concerning to us, “ he said.
“There’s lots of theories going around about who is doing it and we are working very hard to understand who is dumping lobsters. We’re taking it very seriously.”
WATCH: N.S. lobster fishermen protesting outside DFO offices against illegal poaching
Samples from the sites have been collected and sent to DFO labs in Dartmouth for further analysis.
One of the things they hope to understand is how long the lobsters have been there because they appear to be in different stages of decomposition.
— with files from Alexander Quon, Richard Dooley