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N.S. RCMP investigating suspicious fires on fishing vessels

RCMP are looking into suspicious fires aboard two fishing boats in Nova Scotia. File / RCMP

Fires aboard two fishing vessels in the past week have Nova Scotia RCMP investigating as both are believed to have been intentionally set.

According to the RCMP, a fire was reported aboard Amanda’s Pride 1 on Oct. 5 at 7:44 a.m. The vessel had been docked at the slip in Weymouth North, N.S., and an initial investigation has determined that something was placed in the engine hatch which caused the fire.

According to a Transport Canada registry, the ship was owned by Far East Fisheries Limited.

READ MORE: 2nd man faces charges after threats made to Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia

The boat reportedly sustained damage to the interior and the investigation is continuing.

RCMP say the second fire occurred on Oct. 9 at 12:50 p.m. RCMP say the Buck and Doe was reported missing from the Comeauville Wharf in Comeauville, N.S.

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The vehicle was later located in St. Mary’s Bay, where it appears to have sunk before it could be towed back to the wharf.

Investigators say the lines that had been used to tie the vessel to the wharf had evidence of fire damage and a witness reported that they saw the vessel burning in St. Mary’s Bay.

Alex McDonald, the registered owner of the Buck and Doe, told the Canadian Press that he believes his boat was targeted because he is Aboriginal.

McDonald says he gets along well with non-Indigenous lobster fishermen in the area and doesn’t believe any of them are to blame.

“I know the other fishermen so I don’t believe it was my fellow fishermen that fish beside me. For all the years that I’ve been fishing I haven’t had any problems with anybody. I fish the same licence that they fish,” he said Tuesday.

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He thinks someone is trying to create trouble — noting that Amanda’s Pride 1 was dry-docked and not owned by an Aboriginal fisherman when it was burned.

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There have been some tensions in the area recently over the First Nations ceremonial and food fisheries, and last month, two non-Aboriginal men were charged with threatening Indigenous fishermen online.

McDonald said his boat was worth about $60,000 and he employed up to four deckhands during the winter months.

He said if someone was trying to send a message, they picked the wrong person.

“I don’t do a whole lot of food fishing for lobster in the summer time, so it shouldn’t affect me at all,” he said.

Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey says he’s aware of the boat arsons but says it’s premature to draw any conclusions.

RCMP are now asking for public assistance in their investigation.

“It’s early in our investigation and we’re hoping someone will come forward with information to help us as it develops.” said Cpl. Jennifer Clarke, a spokesperson for the RCMP.

If anyone has information on either incident, they’re urged to contact the Mounties at 1-800-803-7267 or to call Crime Stoppers.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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