Press Release – Vigilantism in the Fisheries Dispute


Tuesday, September 22, 2020



The Green Party of Nova Scotia condemns in the strongest possible terms the illegal acts of vigilantism demonstrated by some Fundy shore commercial fishermen over the past 24 hours.  

Canadian civilians are not allowed to enforce regulations or interpret  laws, or deputize themselves to do so.  Governments and police are the sole authorities empowered to regulate resources and enforce laws.  

21 years of inaction towards the practical application of the Moderate Livable fishery by successive governments represents a complete dereliction of duty to both Mi’kmaq and non-native communities, leading  some to desperate and criminal acts.


The events of the past few days in Comeauville, Saulnierville and Metahegan are extremely dangerous, shameful, and demand immediate provincial government action to guarantee the safety of all people and protect the rule of law.  

In the past 24 hours, groups of commercial fishermen admitted, through spokesmen Colin Sproul, the president of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishermans Association, and Martin Mallet of the Maritime Fishermans Union, to taking the law into their own hands, removing lobster traps and releasing catch that did not belong to them, which Sproul contends was done under the supervision of RCMP and DFO authorities.  They also admit to cutting lines to traps, adding to the growing pile of ghost gear polluting the ocean. In Comeauville dozens of vehicles and more than 50 men identified and surrounded the home of an individual they allege purchased lobster in a manner they considered illegal. 

Under what legal jurisdiction did these fishermen operate when they confiscated property not belonging to them?  Which authority from the RCMP or DFO appointed commercial fishermen as deputies in regulatory enforcement?  Was permission or training given to everyone, or specific individuals?  The mob that assembled in Comeauville claim they were protesting, but made clear accusations offering no evidence towards an unnamed individual, while openly flaunting provincial COVID laws governing social distancing and masks. 

Canadians do not have the right to enforce regulations or interpret laws.  The acts committed over the past days are equivalent to theft, vandalism, illegal dumping, intimidation, and mob rule without any accountability or liability to the public.  If police, federal and provincial authorities tolerate this behaviour, then governments are complicit in normalizing vigilantism and exploiting those commercial fishermen to solve problems they are responsible for.

The Green Party of Nova Scotia condemns acts of vigilantism in any form. We live in a land of law and order.  The Mi’kmaq people used legal means over 21 years to have their rights ruled on in the public court system.  The commercial fishermen of Nova Scotia who participated in the events of the last week would be well served to follow the Mi’kmaq example of how to respect the laws of Canada.

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