NEWS

Grand Manan lobster protest draws federal attention

11/15/2012 06:26 EST | Updated 01/15/2013 05:12 EST
Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea will speak with lobster fishermen on Grand Manan on Thursday after a number of protesters barricaded the Department of Fisheries and Oceans building on the island.

Shea will speak with the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association on a conference call on Thursday. The meeting was arranged to calm tensions on the island.

Grand Manan fishermen and residents are angry at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for allowing the sale of 10 lobster licences for district 38, which includes the waters off the coast of Grand Manan, to fishermen from Nova Scotia.

The Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association requested the federal government temporarily suspend the sale of lobster licences on Tuesday. When that request was rejected, several hundred Grand Manan residents decided to show their frustration publicly.

Ken Griffin, 25, was among those who protested outside of the DFO office on Wednesday.

"We put up a couple hundred lobster traps across the front of the building. We blocked off the driveway and all the entrances into the building,” said Griffin, who has been fishing with his father for a decade.

Brian Guptill, the president of the fishermen’s association, said the barricade in front of the DFO office was taken down on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in the week, a number of Nova Scotia boats were cut loose and set adrift from three of the island's wharves.

The island fishermen do have their local MP on their side in their fight to have the licence transfers stopped.

New Brunswick Southwest Conservative MP John Willamson said he’d like to see a temporary freeze on licence transfers so that a long-term solution can be worked out.

"There's a lot of different opinions but in this case dealing with Grand Manan, I do believe there should be a moratorium on that until a solution on how we can keep licences on Grand Manan can be realized,” he said.

MORE:cbcNews