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Conservative MPs call for urgent action against lobster poaching in St. Mary’s Bay

By Evan Taylor Aug 21, 2023 | 3:14 PM

Lobster boats in Yarmouth Bar on the morning of Dumping Day. (Acadia News Photo)

In a joint effort to address a concerning rise in lobster poaching activities in the St. Mary’s Bay region, Conservative Members of Parliament Chris d’Entremont and Rick Perkins have issued a letter to the newly appointed Fisheries Minister, urging immediate and decisive action.

The letter, co-signed by d’Entremont, representing West Nova, and Perkins, representing South Shore-St. Margarets, highlights the escalating incidents of illegal lobster fishing within the vital breeding area of St. Mary’s Bay. These activities, described as an “unlawful, out-of-season commercial endeavor,” have sparked grave concerns within both the Nova Scotian and New England fishing communities.

The MPs emphasize the significance of this issue, emphasizing that the illegal lobster poaching poses not only a threat to local ecosystems but also to the stability of lobster stocks and the wellbeing of the communities that rely on the fishing industry. They express the importance of preventing a repetition of past inaction by previous ministers and call on the current minister, Minister Lebouthillier, to take a stand against criminal activities before the situation escalates further.

The letter also references past incidents, including the elver fishing debacle, where Minister Joyce Murray’s actions were seen as penalizing legal license holders rather than deterring poachers. The MPs assert that recent statements from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) regarding enforcement have not been supported by effective actions. Unlicensed boats engaged in poaching activities are reportedly on the rise in St. Mary’s Bay, reminiscent of the crisis experienced in 2020.

Among their requests, the MPs urge Minister Lebouthillier to initiate immediate enforcement measures, collaborating with relevant law enforcement agencies to apprehend poachers, seize their gear, and confiscate their boats. Their calls for stringent measures reflect a zero-tolerance approach to criminal fishing activities that are undermining the integrity of the lobster fishery.

The MPs express concern about the imminent threat posed to lobster stocks due to the ongoing poaching activities, particularly given the unusually high yield per pot during this season. The presence of unlicensed boats from various regions is cited as evidence of an organized criminal enterprise that must be addressed swiftly.

As the situation continues to unfold, the concerned MPs are calling on the Fisheries Minister to prioritize the protection of marine resources, the well-being of coastal communities, and the future of the fishing industry through prompt and resolute action against illegal lobster fishing.

It remains to be seen how Minister Lebouthillier will respond to these urgent concerns, but this letter highlights the mounting pressure on the government to address the issue of lobster poaching in St. Mary’s Bay effectively.

You can read the full letter online.


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