Current Problems

Treaties and Land Claims

Sipekne’katik First Nation granted a temporary adjournment to allow for mediation with the Crown

June 24, 2024

NationTalk: HALIFAX, NS – A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has granted a joint request from the Sipekne’katik First Nation and the Attorney General of Canada to adjourn trial dates that would have aimed to settle treaty fishing rights disputes. The court has decided to give the involved parties until December 12, 2024, to have a defined and active mediation process in place, if not, proceeding with litigation would be re-examined.

The Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFCA), which represents the interests of its members who are commercial fishers in the Gulf and Maritimes regions, asserts that the courts must finally decide the scope of Marshall rights for Indigenous Peoples.

“The fact that the Sipekne’katik First Nation is attempting to settle treaty fishing rights issues outside of court is a historic precedent considering the court system has been at the center of Indigenous claims to the fishery and rights in particular for decades,” said Colin Sproul, President of the UFCA. “The UFCA has been front-and-center asserting that fishery rights need to be defined by the courts and everyone, including Indigenous Peoples, must work within science-based established fishing seasons set by the need to conserve and manage the commercial fishery for everyone. The decision by Sipekne’katik First Nation to abandon the expedited Court process is an admission that the claims made that the Fisheries Act provisions on the need for licenses, fishing within defined seasons and overall management of the lobster fishery didn’t apply to  moderate livelihood. That is a victory for the UFCA and its membership”.

“Harvesters and Indigenous Peoples have to know precisely whether we have rules and what the rules of the game are,” according to Sproul.

Governments have consistently been on the public record asserting that any fishing effort must take place within scientifically established fishing seasons. “This is about a sustainable and conservation-based commercial fishery with seasons and rules enforced by DFO,” according to Sproul.

The courts must better define the scope of the rights that is spoken about in the two Marshall decisions. The parameters and breadth of the rights has been consistently misinterpreted and misconstrued over the past twenty five years by politicians and bureaucrats alike to fit or push an agenda of their making. The court is the only body that will deliver an unbiased decision and direction to follow.

The UFCA is committed to bringing a resolution to this long-standing issue of Indigenous rights within the commercial fishery. The UFCA will continue to explore any and all legal avenues to finally bring clarity to this matter for the benefit of non-indigenous and indigenous fisherman and their communities.

For more information on the activities of the UFCA visit


The Unified Fisheries Conservation Alliance (UFCA) is an alliance of commercial fishery stakeholders calling on the Government of Canada to establish clear, lasting, responsible, regulatory oversight for all fisheries – commercial, food, social, and ceremonial.

Established in November 2020, the UFCA represents thousands of independent, multi-species commercial fishermen, and fishery associations from across the Maritimes. Our membership also includes small to medium sized businesses that are directly or indirectly tied to the Atlantic Canadian commercial fishery.

Media Contact: Colin Sproul, [email protected] , (902) 742-5247