The chief of Sipekne’katik First Nation has been arrested by federal fisheries officers on the day the band’s new treaty fishery launched in southwest Nova Scotia.
Chief Mike Sack was arrested on Monday, taken to the Meteghan fisheries office and later released.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has not provided details of why Sack was arrested, or whether he could face charges under fisheries legislation.
Sack told the CBC’s Mainstreet he was in Saulnierville for the launch of the fishery, and was headed toward Digby for lunch when fisheries officers in an unmarked black truck pulled him over and told him he was being arrested “for promoting an illegal fishery.”
“I did ask, like, ‘Why would you arrest me? I haven’t done anything here,'” he said. “It just seems to be all scare tactics for the fisheries, to try to stop what we have going on.”
Boats float in the water at the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., on Monday. (CBC)
Sack said he was not served any papers and was not released with any conditions, so he will return to the wharf in Saulnierville to support the band’s right to fish.
“We’re here to fight for that, and I think there’s always lumps and bruises along the way and we just keep pushing through and get to where we need to be,” he said.
Licences were issued to 13 boats, and Sack said he believed most of those boats took to the water on Monday.
The new treaty fishery is self-regulated by Sipekne’katik First Nation and has not been endorsed by DFO, the federal body that regulates most fisheries in Canada.
In a series of tweets early Monday afternoon, DFO said its fisheries officers were on the water in St. Mary’s Bay conducting inspections and enforcing the Fisheries Act. It warned that improperly or untagged traps would be hauled out and seized.
C&P UPDATE: Fishery officers are on the water and at wharves providing education, conducting inspections and enforcing the Fisheries Act, as circumstances warrant, in St. Mary’s Bay <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NS?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NS</a>.
Band members had been fishing under food, social and ceremonial (FSC) licences — a fishery that is regulated by DFO and has no defined season. But FSC licences do not permit the licence holder to sell their catch.
On Friday, the band said its community members would return their FSC tags, use treaty fishery tags and plan to sell their lobster.
The treaty fishery will operate under the Sipekne’katik fisheries management plan, which is based on “sound conservation measures,” according to the band.
Source From CBC News