21 Arrested in Connection With Lobster Riots in Nova Scotia

Images released by the RCMP of suspects in the October 13 raids (RCMP)

Published Dec 13, 2020 5:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

21 people have been arrested in connection with violent demonstrations at indigenous-operated fishing facilities in Nova Scotia earlier this year, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). 

On October 13, a crowd of several hundred non-indigenous fishermen raided two shoreside warehouses and lobster pounds used by the Sipekne’katik first nation, damaging property and killing or stealing lobsters. One individual has been charged with arson for allegedly burning a van outside one of the two facilities attacked that night. Another faces assault charges for allegedly grabbing and shoving the Sipekne’katik First Nation's chief, Michael Sack.

About 20 more have since been notified that they are under arrest, and additional charges will likely be filed soon, the RCMP said. More arrest notifications are expected.

The disturbances in October followed after the Sipekne’katik's decision to launch their own native-regulated lobster fishery, drawing on a previous court decision providing first nations with the right to engage in their own "moderate welfare" fishing activity. The Sipekne’katik fishery is not licensed by Canadian regulators and falls outside of the commercial season; it has drawn intense opposition from local non-native fishermen, who assert that the off-season fishery could deplete the resource. The Sipekne’katik (and fisheries scientists) say that their 350-pot license pool is too small to have a measurable effect on the lobster population.

The RCMP have an asset in their investigation into the October 13 riots: participants and bystanders recorded the events and posted video from the scene to social media. The agency has released head shots of suspects in three photos and is requesting the public's assistance in identifying them.