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UFCA tells government to enforce law on lobster poachers

By Kevin Northup Dec 6, 2023 | 4:03 PM

The head of a local fishing association says the feds aren’t enforcing the law on out-of-season lobster fishing.

Colin Sproul of the Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance spoke in Ottawa about illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

He told the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans they’ve been trying to address this issue for years.

“The government stopped enforcing the law, in hopes to improve the situation at the rights and reconciliation table, and for the Crown and Indigenous negotiators. We think it’s been a failed tactic and has not led to the successes they were hoping for,” said Sproul.

There were multiple reports of lobster poaching in St. Mary’s Bay over the summer.

Fishers from the Sipekne’katik First Nation have been running their own Treaty fishery in that area, that is not authorized by DFO.

Sproul was asked if processors know what they’re getting into when the lobster comes in.

“I think sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t, depending on how many hands it’s passed through. When the product is being landed at massive quantities out of season, there has to be recognition from processors that it’s unlawfully harvested.”

DFO says they made several arrests and seized lobsters, including over 1,000 traps this year.

Sproul says it’s up to the government to bring First Nations and non-Indigenous fishers back to the table to resolve the situation.