The Canadian Press
LISTUGUJ, Que.–An Indigenous band in eastern Quebec is challenging the limits of its commercial fishing licence, saying the federal government should allow its members to sell lobster caught during its fall fishery in the Bay of Chaleur.
The Mi’kmaq community of Listuguj, located near Cambellton, N.B., has the right to fish for lobster in the fall, but the catch can’t be sold because it’s supposed to be part of a sustainable food fishery–not a commercial enterprise.
Under a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada, known as Sparrow, Indigenous peoples are allowed to fish outside the regular commercial season to feed their communities or to supply ceremonial gatherings–but they are barred from selling their catches.
The Listuguj band issued a statement yesterday, saying the federal Fisheries Department has refused to grant the band a commercial licence for its fall lobster fishery and has not offered an explanation.
The First Nation signed a framework agreement with the federal government last November, leading to formal negotiations on fishing rights that are still ongoing.
Listuguj Chief Darcy Gray issued a statement saying the community remains committed to the negotiations, but the band “cannot be made to wait indefinitely.”
Fisheries and Oceans Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment this morning.