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Indigenous chiefs in N.B. say Fisheries Department officers ignoring fishing rights

Banded lobsters are seen in a catch basket off the coast of Kennebunk, Maine, June 27, 2018.
Banded lobsters are seen in a catch basket off the coast of Kennebunk, Maine, June 27, 2018. EPA/CJ GUNTHER

First Nations chiefs in New Brunswick say federal Fisheries Department officers are preventing members of the St. Mary’s First Nation from feeding their families.

The six chiefs of the Wolastoqey Nation issued a news release Wednesday after officers last week seized a 20-foot lobster fishing boat operated by members of St. Mary’s First Nation in Fredericton in the Bay of Fundy.

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They say Canada is ignoring First Nation priority rights to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes and to a livelihood fishery.

St. Mary’s Chief Allan Polchies says his members have been fishing for lobster in the Bay of Fundy since late July and have been harassed by fisheries officers.

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The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says that part of the bay, known as area 36, is open for fishing from the second Tuesday in November to Jan. 14 and from March 31 to July 9.

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In an emailed statement, the department confirmed the seizure of the boat and said two people were arrested for alleged violations under the Fisheries Act.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 2, 2021.

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