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By Robin Levinson-King

BBC News, Toronto

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A fight over indigenous fishing rights that’s been decades in the making has come to a head in Nova Scotia, the epicentre of Canada’s billion-dollar lobster industry.

In a small warehouse on the southern tip of Nova Scotia, near Yarmouth, two indigenous fishermen found themselves trapped with nowhere to go when an angry mob raided the lobster pound where they had stored their catch.

Jason Marr, one of the indigenous fishermen stuck inside, said he had moved his lobster there that evening, because he heard there might be a raid at another location. All was quiet at first, but soon he says he was surrounded by about 200 men.

“They were pounding on the door, screaming obscenities, ‘give us the lobster’!” he told the BBC.

There were also four non-indigenous men inside with them, who worked at the pound.

The crowd cut the power and threw a rock through the window, while he called police, he says.

“I didn’t know if they wanted to kill me or whatnot… they said they were going to give us until midnight or they were going to burn us out.”

Mr Marr says he saw men urinate on his car and slash his tires. The mayhem ended when police forced him to leave, he says, and he watched as the men stormed the pound and took his catch, as well as others.

Just a few hours earlier, a similar raid had been carried out at a second location, where a car was burned.

In both instances, police gathered outside but made no arrests. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police say they are still investigating.

This dispute is the latest in an escalating feud between Mi’kmaq fishermen and non-indigenous commercial fishermen that began when the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched its own fishery in September, during the off-season.

Non-indigenous commercial fishermen say the fishery should be shut down, while indigenous fishermen say it is their constitutional right.

The roots of this discord go back over 250 years to the Peace and Friendship Treaty of 1752, which promised Mi’kmaq the right to hunt and fish their lands and establish trade.

For centuries, the treaty and others like it were ignored.

But in 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling making it clear that the Mi’qmaq and Maliseet people had the right to not just sustain themselves by hunting and fishing, but to earn a “moderate livelihood”, even in the off-season.

The court defined “moderate livelihood” as a living that provided for “necessities” like food and shelter, but not the “accumulation of wealth”. What that means practically was never addressed in the regulations, leaving a grey area that has yet to be resolved to this day.

For decades, the Mi’kmaq say the government has failed to enforce that ruling. So after several years of failed negotiations, they are coming up with their own solution.

Operating outside of the province’s commercial lobster fishery, the Sipekne’katik First Nation plans to make their lobster fishery a test case, issuing just 11 licences, with the hopes of collecting data towards making the operation sustainable in the years to come.

“It wasn’t like we just came down and put traps in the water,” Chief Michael Sack told the BBC.

But Mr Sack says that shortly after launching the fishery, they became subject to threats and sabotage, which culminated in the raids on two lobster pounds this week.

Derek Thomas, a commercial fisherman for over 25 years, condemns the violence. But he says the government needs to step in and enforce off-season rules for the sake of the lobster population.

“I don’t think anybody likes the violence, and I don’t think anybody denies their rights. But enough is enough already,” he told the BBC.

“Regulations are designed to prevent over-harvesting and to maintain a sustainable fishery, it is all we want for our communities.”

The government does have the right to regulate indigenous fishing in order to protect conservation efforts. But R v Marshall made it clear that the government must prove the restrictions are necessary.

Map

Mr Thomas says fishermen have “frustration boiling over” after years of deteriorating stocks. Between 2016-2018, lobster caches declined about 10% in the province, although there’s no clear indication of why. The pandemic has also cut into lobster exports to the lucrative Chinese market.

This is not the first time indigenous fishermen have clashed with non-indigenous commercial fishers. Shortly after the R v Marshall decision, many indigenous fishermen took to the water in the off-season and fights broke out along wharfs in Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Like now, the non-indigenous fishermen said they were concerned about the effect that off-season fishing would have on the lobster population.

image copyrightReuters

image captionLobster traps that were seized by non-native fishers lie dumped outside the DFO office

In Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) only allows lobster fishing during distinct seasons, timed to coordinate with the lobster’s molting schedules, which is when lobsters shed their shell and grow another one.

During the molting, their shells are soft, and they are easily hurt and killed.

But restricting lobster fishing during molting season is not the only way to protect the lobster population, says Robert Steneck, a professor of oceanography who researches lobster populations at the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences.

“Frankly I don’t think it really makes a difference,” he says.

The scale of the fishery matters, Mr Steneck says, and the impact that a small fishery like the one organised by the Sipekne’katik First Nation would have limited effect on total populations.

In LFA 34, the regulatory name for the body of water near St Mary’s Bay, where the indigenous lobster fishery is located, there are 979 lobster licences, and each licence is allowed to carry about 375-400 traps during the season. The Sipekne’katik fishery has issued 11 licences, with the right to carry 50 traps each.

“Really it would be trivial, in my view, by almost any standard,” he says.

Getty

Canada’s lobster industry

A snapshot from 2018

  • $C1.4bn(£800m) caught

  • 97,381metric tonnes

  • 8,907lobster licences

Source: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

In Maine, the lobster capital of the US, there are no seasons, and soft-shelled lobsters are often preferred by diners for their easy-to-crack outer shell and sweeter taste.

Hard-shell lobsters transport better, which means fishermen can sell more of them.

“You do have more mortality of soft-shell lobsters if you’re going to use them for distribution – but if it’s for domestic consumption it doesn’t matter that much,” Mr Steneck say.

Canada is the largest supplier of lobsters in the world, and Nova Scotia is responsible for harvesting about half of the country’s C$1.4bn of lobster. ($1.05bn; £820m).

The non-indigenous fishing industry has been a vital part of the province’s economy since it was settled by British and French colonialists in the 1600s.

But the Mi’kmaw have been fishing the region’s waters for centuries before.

“We are so deeply connected to the land, the river, the water, the resources. It’s not just how we survive; it becomes who we are,” says Cheryl Maloney, an activist and political science professor at the University of Cape Breton who is the daughter of former chief Reginald Maloney. Before his death in 2014, he

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US slaps sanctions on Iran’s envoy to Iraq, citing links to Quds Force & militia groups

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Washington has added the Iranian ambassador to Iraq to its sanctions blacklist, claiming he works for an elite military unit it has deemed a terrorist cell, as well as three groups it accused of “sowing discord” in the 2020 race.

Sanctions were announced for Ambassador Iraj Masjedi on Thursday, with the US Treasury Department deeming him a “long-running threat to Iraqi security” and citing his alleged role in training militia groups in Iraq with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – designated a terrorist organization by the US last year.

“In his decades of service with the group, Masjedi has overseen a program of training and support to Iraqi militia groups, and he has directed or supported groups that are responsible for attacks that have killed and wounded US and coalition forces in Iraq,” the department said in a statement, adding that the envoy “has exploited his position as the Iranian regime’s ambassador in Iraq to obfuscate financial transfers conducted for the benefit” of the IRGC and its external wing, the Quds Force.




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Masjedi was appointed ambassador in 2017, after serving in the IRGC for some 35 years. A veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, he later worked as a close adviser to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a US assassination strike in January. Following Soleimani’s death, Masjedi took on some of his former duties in overseeing Iraq’s Shia militia groups – known as the Popular Mobilization Forces – who have played a salient role in beating back the Islamic State.

Though President Donald Trump has unleashed a barrage of sanctions on the Islamic Republic since taking office, including on Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, penalties for diplomats are somewhat rare, more often targeting military officials.

In Thursday’s sanctions announcement, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also accused Tehran of a “destabilizing foreign agenda,” including attempts to “influence US elections,” beating the drum on an increasingly common talking point from the Trump administration.

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In the same spirit, on Thursday Washington also imposed penalties on five Iranian entities it said had tried to “influence elections in the United States,” though produced no evidence to support the charge. One day prior, US intelligence officials also claimed Iran was behind a “spoof email” campaign designed to “intimidate voters, incite social unrest, and damage President Trump,” adding to a flurry of similar assertions of foreign influence operations by not only Iran, but Russia and China as well.

Tehran has rejected the allegations, lodging a formal complaint on Thursday with the Swiss ambassador in Iran – who has acted as a mediator for US-Iranian diplomacy – to protest charges it called “baseless.” A spokesman for Iran’s mission to the UN, Alireza Miryousefi, has also dismissed the claims as “absurd” and “dangerous,” scorching Washington for “desperate public attempts to question the outcome of its own elections.”

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11 arrested at anti-Covid lockdown protest in Dublin, police violently clash with demonstrators (VIDEOS)

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More than 100 demonstrators protesting ramped-up Covid-19 lockdown restrictions clashed with police in Dublin, with 11 being arrested and an investigation launched into the organizers of the event.

Nine of the people arrested have been charged with public order offenses, as the protest breaks lockdown restrictions, which only allow citizens to leave their homes for essential trips.

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Tanzania’s Tundu Lissu: Surviving an assassination attempt to run for president

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By BBC News Swahili

Dar es Salaam

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To his supporters, Tundu Lissu is brave and fearless. The fact that he is running for president of Tanzania three years after surviving an attempt on his life is testimony to his determination.

He was shot several times by gunmen, who have yet to be identified, near his home in the capital, Dodoma, and underwent more than 20 operations in Kenya and Belgium in order to recover.

Flying back into the country in July, after treatment abroad, he was greeted at the airport by his backers as a returning hero.

At a time when some in Tanzania feel that their freedom to speak out is being curtailed, Mr Lissu’s frank style has been very appealing and in August he comfortably beat off two challengers to secure the presidential nomination for the opposition Chadema party.

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The 52-year-old lawyer first became an MP for Chadema in 2010 for a constituency near his birth place in Singida, 320km (200 miles) north-west of Dodoma.

He quickly established himself as an outspoken voice and a fierce critic of the government and later President John Magufuli after he was elected in 2015.

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In March 2017, he was detained for “uttering words intended to wound religious feelings, raise discontent and ill-will for unlawful purposes”.

Then in July of that year he was arrested on charges of sedition after claiming that a government-owned plane had been seized in Canada over an unpaid debt of $38m (£29m).

His boldness has endeared him to neutrals as well as supporters of some other opposition parties.

But he will also need to restore faith in his own party. In the wake of Chadema’s 2015 defeat, many of its MPs and leaders, including losing presidential candidate Edward Lowassa, joined the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

Mr Lissu needs to convince Chadema’s members that he is a different type of politician and will not be using the election as a bargaining chip with the CCM leadership.

On the campaign trail, he has been true to his reputation of being outspoken. Though one of the main criticisms levelled against all opposition politicians has been that they focus on attacking Mr Magufuli and his government rather than selling their policies.

At the end of September, Mr Lissu was summoned to the electoral commission’s ethics committee after reportedly saying that President Magufuli was colluding with election officials to rig the vote. The opposition candidate was accused of fomenting chaos.

Then a week later he was suspended from campaigning for seven days after the electoral commission said that he had uttered seditious statements during one of his rallies.

Tundu Lissu

Getty Images

The regime is getting scared and therefore they are pulling out all the stops… in their capacity to fight my campaign”

Chadema has also said its party offices in the north of the country were attacked.

“The regime is getting scared and therefore they are pulling out all the stops, using all instruments of power in their capacity to fight my campaign,” Mr Lissu told the Reuters news agency.

His stance has certainly caught the attention of the young urban population, and he has told BBC News Swahili that if he were to win, in his first 100 days he would:

  • Raise salaries in the public sector
  • Free those he considered political prisoners
  • Compensate those who have been “hurt” by the government
  • And re-start the constitution review process.

But it is not clear whether he will be able to make any serious inroads into the rural strongholds of CCM, which has been in power since its formation in 1977.

CCM was a successor to the Tanganyika African National Union, which governed Tanzania from 1961 to 1977.

There are 13 other candidates challenging the incumbent, with former Foreign Minister Bernard Membe one of the most high-profile of the others.

Expelled from the ruling party

The 66-year-old is contesting the presidential election for the ACT Wazalendo party, but his candidacy has been hampered by the fact that his party leader, Zitto Kabwe, and chairman, Seif Sharif Hamad, have endorsed Mr Lissu.

image copyrightEPA

image captionBernard Membe is a former foreign minister and an experienced politician

They believe that he has a b

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