Canadian police make arrests in anger over lobster fight
Police have made two arrests in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, which has escalated tensions over a lobster fishing set up by a tribal community.
Authorities attacked two people as the crowd gathered to mark the launch site.
Members of the first nation of Sybegnetic claim to have the right to issue fishing licenses to their own people.
Non-tribal lobster fishermen, however, say their boats run out of season and should be stopped.
The order comes on the heels of a ruling that affirmed the rights of tribal groups to hunt and fish.
That 1999 ruling ruled that any hunting and fishing should be a moderate livelihood – but “moderate” is often not defined.
Lobster is Nova Scotia’s most valuable seafood export, and the associated fishing industry is valued at C $ 500m (£ 293m) annually.
On Thursday, the first country in Sypnekotic granted the first licenses under its new self-regulated “moderate livelihood” fishery at the port of Soulnerville. About 200 people gathered on the wharf to watch the boats disembark and a ceremony to bless the navy was held.
Cybegnetic leader Michael Zack told the crowd that they were exercising their constitutional rights guaranteed in the 1999 ruling.
“Our problem is not with the commercial fishermen, we have a problem with the size of the government not upholding our rights,” the CDV quoted him as saying. “Commercial fishermen should step back and do our thing.”
As new fishing began, boats belonging to non-tribal lobster fishermen circled the mouth of a harbor.
He said the local fishermen then cut the lines for their lobster traps and set fire to their boats.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Friday tried to calm the situation in Wharf and other nearby areas, officials said.
Local media reported that anger had erupted among a large crowd in the town of Weymouth, about 25 km (15 miles) north of Sarnierville.
“We arrested two people at Wharf in Weymouth,” RCMP spokeswoman Jennifer Clark told CBC, both broadcasters. “They were arrested for assault and they were taken away from the scene and then they are pending in court.”
He said police will be in the area over the weekend.
Friday, Tribal leaders declared a “state of emergency” In response to increasing tensions.
Non-tribal lobster fishermen are calling on the Canadian government to crack down on new fish stocks. They say the law banning lobster fishing for several months is essential for security purposes.
They also accuse the indigenous fishery of actually being a business venture that removes large numbers of crabs – a stark denial by the first nation leaders.
Canadian Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan told CBC Nova Scotia News that she would like to meet with representatives from both sides of the controversy to discuss the “best way forward.”
He said he hoped both sides would come to the table for security.
“We need to find a place where we can cultivate good conversation and make sure we can all listen to each other and not talk to each other. We need to listen to each other and figure out how to better resolve this situation,” he added.
In recent years, Canada has become increasingly concerned about the rights of indigenous peoples.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party came to power, promising to change the country’s relationship with tribal communities.
Indigenous peoples in Canada include the right to land, the right to self-determination, and the right to self-government and to practice their culture and customs.
Canada has more than 1.6 million indigenous peoples, including the first nations, the Inuit and the Medes, and they make up 5% of the national population.
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