Listuguj fishers featured in TV documentary about their commercial fishery

Documentary series comes as Mi’kmaw harvesters fight for moderate livelihood rights

Peter Martin of Listuguj First Nation has been fishing since he was a teenager.

Now, at 38, he’s one of the fishers featured in a 13 part documentary series – Gespe’gew’gi: The Las Land which is airing on APTN.

“I want people to know what we’re all about you know that we are doing it properly,” he said. “For me, first and foremost, this is my community, I love to represent them I and to be a captain on a crab boat, I mean, there’s no better feeling not nothing hands down the best.”

The series tells the stories of Listuguj First Nation commercial fishery, and the people behind it.

It hasn’t always been clear sailing for Mi’gmag fishers here.

In 1981, Quebec provincial police seized nets to restrict salmon fishing in the Restigouche River.

They became known as the Salmon Raids and police became violent.

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Today Listuguj has two types of fisheries – ceremonial and commercial – both are regulated by the federal government.

Producer Lisa M. Roth, takes the viewers behind the headlines.

“Learning how lobster and crab are fished, are harvested in with the traps and how the bait goes in and how many traps they do in a day was incredibly interesting seeing how hard they work oh my gosh they work so hard to get this lobster and rock crab, when I go to the grocery store in Montreal, I certainly look at it differently now,” said Roth.

The series airs as Mi’kmaw fishers in Nova Scotia are battling with the federal government over their right to a moderate fishery.

Last fall Sipkne’katin First Nation launched its moderate livelihood fishery and was met with a violent push back from non-Indigenous fishers.

The two sides are still at odds over how the fishery will work.

Martin says it’s more than access – the costs have to be considered.

“I’m talking true moderate, because the non-natives wouldn’t even consider fishing with fifty traps it would be a joke to try to finance a million-dollar lobster  boat and pay for a fishery, so you know it’s time to step things up,” he said.

Listuguj First Nation has a population of about 4,000 and lies along the Restigouche river, on the Quebec side, across from northern New Brunswick.

It has two types of fisheries, food and ceremonial fishery in the fall, and the commercial fishery in the spring.

The producers hope to have a second season.

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