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Cape Breton’s Potlotek First Nation to sue Nova Scotia over livelihood fisher

Click to play video: 'Another First Nation developing plans for moderate livelihood fishery' Another First Nation developing plans for moderate livelihood fishery
The Bear River First Nation is developing plans to create its own moderate livelihood fishery in the area of St. Mary’s Bay. As Jesse Thomas reports, they are developing the plan in co-operation with the Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs – Oct 26, 2020

A Cape Breton First Nation has filed notice of an intended lawsuit against the province over its right to sell seafood caught through its moderate livelihood fishery.

In a news release, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs says the legal notice was sent to the province on Tuesday by Chief Wilbert Marshall on behalf of Potlotek First Nation and Potlotek community harvester Michael Basque.

The notice says provincial regulations infringe on Potlotek’s treaty right to sell, purchase and process fish and also prevents Mi’kmaq fishers from meaningfully exercising their treaty right to fish for a moderate livelihood.

Read more: Sipekne’katik files court action against Nova Scotia to claim fishing treaty right

The assembly says the regulations run contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Once a notice of intended action is sent, a lawsuit can be filed with the court 60 days later.

Potlotek launched its first self-regulated lobster fishery last October in St. Peters Bay.

“Our right to a moderate livelihood was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada, yet Nova Scotia’s regulations prevent us from fully exercising our rights,” Marshall said.

Click to play video: 'Potlotek First Nation launches self-regulated lobster fishery' Potlotek First Nation launches self-regulated lobster fishery
Potlotek First Nation launches self-regulated lobster fishery – Oct 1, 2020

Indigenous fishers have based their fall harvests on a 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision that affirmed the Mi’kmaq treaty right to fish for a “moderate livelihood” when and where they want.

That decision was later clarified by the court, however, which said Ottawa could regulate the Mi’kmaq treaty right for conservation and other limited purposes

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2021.

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