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N.S. RCMP arrest 4 in connection with shots fired at Pictou Landing fisherman

A sign welcomes visitors to Pictou Landing First Nation. Alexa MacLean/Global News

Nova Scotia RCMP have arrested four people in connection with an alleged shooting Sunday afternoon near Pictou Landing First Nation.

Pictou Landing Chief Andrea Paul said Sunday in a Facebook post an Indigenous fisher was shot at after he went on the water to confirm whether a group of men were removing lobster traps.

Paul says the fisher was alone when he was allegedly shot at and that the men were armed with a rifle.

Read more: More arrests made in dispute over Indigenous lobster fishing in Nova Scotia

An RCMP press release corroborates the basic details in Paul’s Facebook post.

Police say at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, officers responded to reports of shots being in the Northumberland Straight near Pictou Landing First Nation.

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A man is said to have been observing the crew of a fishing vessel removing lobster traps from the water.

Investigators say that the man approached the fishing vessel in a small boat.

In response, the fishing vessel accelerated towards his boat and shots were fired from the vessel.

Click to play video 'RCMP release surveillance video of persons of interest connected to fisheries fire' RCMP release surveillance video of persons of interest connected to fisheries fire
RCMP release surveillance video of persons of interest connected to fisheries fire – Oct 30, 2020

The man was not injured in the incident and was able to safely return to port where police were contacted.

On Sunday evening a 51-year-old man from Pictou County turned himself in and was arrested without incident.

Three other men from Pictou County were arrested on Monday in Caribou, N.S.

RCMP have not identified the men and no charges have been laid at this time.

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Investigators say they believe this is an isolated incident and that there is no threat to the public.

The Mounties say their investigation is ongoing and they’re urging anyone with information on the incident to call RCMP at 902-755-4141 or to contact Crime Stoppers.

Read more: N.S. lobster fishing season underway, First Nation fishers to sit out

This is the latest in a series of violent responses to Indigenous fishermen in Nova Scotia over the past few months.

Fishing lines have been slashed or damaged and buildings have been ransacked by crowds as large as 200 people as commercial fishermen, many of whom are not Indigenous, responded to the launch of moderate livelihood fisheries by First Nations in the province.

The Sipekne’katik First Nation was the first to launch a fishery in mid-September in a bid to exercise a treaty right that all Indigenous nations in Eastern Canada have, which is to fish or hunt for a “moderate livelihood.”

It was a right further recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Marshall decision.

Click to play video 'Federal facilitator in N.S. lobster dispute facing resistance' Federal facilitator in N.S. lobster dispute facing resistance
Federal facilitator in N.S. lobster dispute facing resistance – Oct 25, 2020

Although the term “moderate livelihood” was not formally defined by the court, a subsequent decision ruled that the government has the authority to impose some regulations for the purposes of conservation, subject to nation-to-nation consultations.

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But in the 21 years since the Marshall decision was handed down, those negotiations have never occurred and the Sipekne’katik First Nation has argued that the DFO’s failure means their fishery is permissible.

The Sipekne’katik have since been joined by the Pictou Landing First Nation and the Potlotek First Nation in Cape Breton.

Other bands, such as the Bear River and Membertou First Nations, have declared intentions to launch their own moderate livelihood fisheries.

With files from The Canadian Press