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Federal representative hopes to ease tensions in Nova Scotia lobster dispute

Last Updated Oct 24, 2020 at 3:54 pm EST

Indigenous fishermen carry lobster traps in Saulnierville, N.S. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. Tensions remain high over an Indigenous-led lobster fishery that has been the source of conflict with non-Indigenous fishermen. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX — The man appointed by Ottawa to mediate the ongoing lobster fishing dispute in southwestern Nova Scotia says his priority will be de-escalating tension in the area.

Allister Surette was appointed Friday to work as a facilitator between Indigenous fishers from the Sipekne’katik First Nation and non-Indigenous fishers who work in St. Marys Bay.

Surette is the president of Université Sainte-Anne, a French-language university based in Church Point, N.S., not far from where the two sides have clashed over the First Nation’s new, self-regulated lobster fleet.

Soon after the fleet was launched last month — outside the federally regulated commercial season — there were violent protests, allegations of vandalism, and a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico was burned to the ground last weekend.

Surette, who was born in West Pubnico, says he hopes to find common ground between the two groups. 

He previously facilitated fishing disputes in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 24, 2020. 

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press