Two N.S. men facing charges of making online threats to Indigenous fishermen | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Two N.S. men facing charges of making online threats to Indigenous fishermen

September 27, 2017 - 1:11 PM

YARMOUTH, N.S. - Two Nova Scotia men are facing charges of threatening Indigenous fishermen off the southwestern tip of the province, a lucrative lobster fishing zone where tensions have been mounting over the First Nations ceremonial fishery.

RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said Wednesday that police became aware of the alleged online threats about a month ago, around the same time a dispute between Indigenous and non-Aboriginal fishermen began intensifying over the food, social and ceremonial fishery.

Police began an investigation, leading to the arrest Friday of a 36-year-old man from Clyde River who is facing two counts of uttering threats online. They were still looking for another man who is facing the same charges. Clarke wouldn't say if the two are fishermen.

Clarke wouldn't provide details on the nature of the threats, but said at least one appeared on Facebook and involved a threat to personal safety or property.

"People have the right to voice their opinion in a peaceful and lawful manner," she said. "But the offence is made when a person's property or a person's personal safety is threatened and, in this case, we feel that offence was made out ... We feel that it has crossed the line."

Non-Indigenous fishermen have staged several protests outside fisheries offices in Digby, Tusket and Meteghan in recent weeks over claims that Aboriginal fishermen are taking unfair advantage of their right to continue fishing outside of the regular commercial season, which ended May 31.

Bernie Berry, president of the Coldwater Lobster Association, has said they support the food, social and ceremonial fisheries, but insists the activity is spawning a rapidly growing black market and being sold illegally.

Morley Knight, assistant deputy minister with the Department of Fisheries, told the CBC recently that there were "clear indications" of abuse in the Indigenous food, social and ceremonial fishery in St. Mary's Bay and that officials were stepping up patrols of the area.

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada issued the landmark Sparrow decision that found Indigenous Peoples have the right to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes. The court also found that right takes priority over other uses for the resource, but conservation must be considered.

However, federal regulations state that commercial sales from these fisheries are prohibited.

Michael Sack, chief of the 2,500-member Sipekne'katik First Nation, has said some Mi'kmaq fishermen could be selling lobster on the side, but they are only exercising their right to earn a moderate living from the fishery as spelled out by the Supreme Court of Canada in its Marshall decision.

The lobster business remains the most lucrative fishery in Canada, generating more than $2 billion in export sales in 2015 and again in 2016. The roughly 950 lobster licence holders in southwestern Nova Scotia work in the most profitable fishing grounds in the country.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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