The Christian Science Monitor : 2020-12-07

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“I want to be able to hand this down to my children. And if I can’t do that, that’s where the uncertaint­y affects us the most.” that the government does have the right to restrict a moderate livelihood fishery in the name of conservati­on. Commercial fishers point out that the fishery was started at the time of year when lobsters are molting. But many scientists doubt any of this will adversely affect lobster population­s. They note that the Sipekne’katik First Nation issued just 11 licenses, which encompasse­s about 500 traps, a tiny fraction of the commercial industry. And they point out that the U.S. doesn’t restrict lobstering during molting. Yet questions endure about future population­s. With more Mi’kmaw communitie­s launching their own moderate livelihood fisheries, some worry it could eventually lead to a decline in lobster stocks. One lobsterman who works in LFA 33, which adjoins LFA 34, says he and his fellow fishers aren’t greedy as the media have depicted them. (He asked that his name not be used, out of concern that he and his family could be targeted online.) Instead, with two lobster licenses, a snow crab license, and a boat, he says he’s more than $1 million (Canadian; U.S.$764,000) in debt. While lobster stocks in his fishing area are healthy, he’s worried what out- of-season fishing could mean for the long-term sustainabi­lity of the industry. “Since being a young fisherman, young captain, the most important thing to me, to be honest, is not the money. The most important thing to me is ... I want to be able to hand this down to my children. And if I can’t do that, that’s where the uncertaint­y affects us the most.” or Atlantic tomcod, a fish that is culturally important to the Mi’kmaq. But the way this project is structured is as significan­t as the species they’re studying. The project, called Apoqnmatul­ti’k, is a three-year study combining Western scientific techniques with Mi’kmaw ecological principles and local knowledge. The focus is on three species – tomcod, American eel, and American lobster – in the Bay of Fundy and, in the north of the province, the saltwater Bras D’Or Lake. The project blends Indigenous and Western ways to see the world from both perspectiv­es. “We’re building a different way of doing research that is guided by community punamu, – Non-Indigenous fisherman r r r MATTHEW BAILEY/VWPICS/AP/FILE Lobster traps line the harbor in Saulniervi­lle, Nova Scotia. The collapse of groundfish stocks and corporate takeovers have left lobster as the only community-based inshore fishery in the region. But that’s why some see the room for common ground. Dr. Fuller points to a recent labor market study that shows a 40% shortage of workers over the next 10 years in Atlantic Canada’s fisheries – a gap that First Nations could help fill. Both groups also face the same threat from climate change, which is warming waters and could eventually force lobster population­s farther north and offshore. And they are uniquely positioned to share learnings and best practices as a path forward. Once a week, commercial fisherman Darren Porter backs his boat down a ramp and into the muddy waters of the Halfway River, which flows into the Bay of Fundy. On the boat, he joins master’s students from a nearby university and employees from the Mi’kmaw Conservati­on Group. “We’re tagging fish, doing surgeries [for tags], tracking fish, stuff like that,” says Mr. Porter. The team is conducting work on knowledge, values, and their priorities,” says Skyler Jeddore, who is from Eskasoni First Nation and is community liaison and field technician for the Apoqnmatul­ti’k project in the Bras D’Or Lake. Many believe the research project could be a template for shared stewardshi­p of lobster population­s. “We work together, we collect any informatio­n, we share the informatio­n, and we at the end all understand what’s going on together,” says Mr. Porter. “That’s the path forward. ... First, we have to learn how to talk to each other.” In a dispute where much of the tension has hinged on the conservati­on of a species that will affect the future of Indigenous and non-Indigenous communitie­s alike, that template offers a potential way forward, Mr. Porter says. “We all have to look past our own needs and wants. We’ve got to start doing something for somebody else, instead of just doing stuff for ourselves.” r 28 THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR WEEKLY | DECEMBER 7, 2020 PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­ +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW