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N.S. Mi’kmaq to start season with scaled-down plans for fishery in St. Marys Bay

Click to play video: 'Seized traps returned to Sipekne’katik, which plans to launch ceremonial fishery next week' Seized traps returned to Sipekne’katik, which plans to launch ceremonial fishery next week
WATCH: About a hundred lobster traps seized by the federal government were returned to Sipekne'katik First Nation on Thursday, as its harvesters prepare for the launch of a ceremonial fishery next week. As Elizabeth McSheffrey reports, a Food, Social and Ceremonial Fishery differs from a moderate livelihood fishery, which the community plans to launch later this summer. – May 27, 2021

A Mi’kmaq community is scaling down plans for a lobster harvest in southwestern Nova Scotia next week, after Ottawa threatened to pull traps that aren’t licensed by the Fisheries Department.

Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack told reporters today that instead of pursuing a “moderate livelihood” fishery with up to 50 traps per boat, Indigenous fishers will begin the season by pursuing a food, social and ceremonial fishery.

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In a phone interview today, he said the ceremonial fishery in St. Marys Bay would be comprised of about “four or five” lobster traps per person on the boat, adding that the fishery is expected to expand later in the year.

On April 22, the band had announced that about 20 boats would fish out of Saulnierville, N.S., beginning in June, despite warnings from the federal government the traps would be seized.

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Read more: Ottawa, Mi’kmaq community on collision course over plan for second lobster season

Sack says the scaled-down fishery is authorized under food, social and ceremonial licences, where the Fisheries Department provides licences, or “tags,” that permit a small catch — provided the harvest is for food and ceremonies.

The chief, however, also says that fishers will be permitted by the band to sell a portion of their catch to pay for expenses.

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