Man accused of assaulting conservation officer after elvers bust in downtown Dartmouth

A man has been charged with assaulting a Nova Scotia conservation officer who was enforcing the federal ban on fishing for baby eels, also known as elvers, in the Maritimes.The alleged incident took place one week ago — not on a remote rural stream, but on the Shubenacadie Canal in downtown Dartmouth.The federal Fisheries Department and the provincial Department of Natural Resources called police to the 100 block of Alderney Drive shortly before 10 p.m. local time on April 10.A spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Police, Const. Ann Giffin, said a 39-year-old man was arrested and is due in court at a later date. Police did not identify the accused. However, a Sipekne’katik First Nation man said on social media he was the one arrested.James Nevin maintained he did nothing wrong. He claimed conservation officers did not identify themselves and that he was sprayed with bear spray in the course of his arrest at Martins Park.James Nevin, seen here in a video shared on Facebook, says he was the man charged by police, but denies assaulting a conservation officer . (Facebook)”I didn’t hit nobody,” he said on Facebook. “I want us to be left alone. It’s our right to do this. We should be able to fish.”There is some overfishing, but I mean maybe if they set something in place for us, you know, 12 kilos per person or something. We requested that in our management plan.”DFO declined to comment on the incident Wednesday.N.S. joins Ottawa to enforce elver banThis year, provincial conservation officers have joined DFO in its efforts to enforce an order to close the 2024 elver fishing season.DFO said three people were arrested and later released during the Dartmouth operation. A couple of nets were seized, as were 2.5 kilograms of elvers that were put back in the water.The department said it has made 91 arrests, seized 18 vehicles and dozens of nets, and released 32 kilograms of elvers so far this year.Federal Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier announced last month the elver season would not open in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick due to safety and conservation concerns, but the department conceded it could not stop what it called widespread poaching and the export of elvers.The shutdown has not stopped unauthorized harvesting of the tiny, translucent eels that are shipped to China and grown for food.Poaching continuesStanley King, a commercial elver licence holder whose operation was closed down by the ministerial order, has reported unauthorized elver fishing 13 times so far this spring on rivers south of Halifax. Each one is documented with trail camera images.Stanley King says the fishery closure has been devastating for those with licences, and a boon to poachers. (David Laughlin/CBC)”It’s clear that with so many poachers actively fishing, there must also be active buyers, holding facilities and exporters. It should be evident to minister Lebouthillier that shutting down the fishery has once again not produced the desired impact, as predicted by industry,” King said in an email Wednesday sent to federal officials and media outlets.”The closure has only served to take 1,100 jobs away from law-abiding fishers, allowing poachers to fish unfettered.”Other arrests near PubnicoIn a separate operation on April 11 in Yarmouth County, DFO said fishery officers arrested five people, seized a vehicle and released 1.5 kilograms of elvers.Spokesperson Lauren Sankey said anyone caught fishing for elvers will be subject to enforcement under the Fisheries Act and the Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations.”Violence or harassment towards fishery officers will not be tolerated and will be referred to the relevant police force,” Sankey said in a statement.The Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources told CBC News its officers will continue to provide elver fishing enforcement assistance to DFO.The ministerial closure order — the third shutdown in five years — affects Mi’kmaw communities that had been fishing with DFO approval. Still, many members of Sipekne’katik and other bands claim a treaty right to fish for a moderate living means they don’t have to obey DFO orders.The Supreme Court of Canada says otherwise.It has ruled the federal government has the authority to regulate treaty fisheries for conservation and other purposes.First Nations fishermen have been joined by non-Indigenous fishermen, who are also eager to cash in on the catch which used to sell for up to $5,000 a kilo. CBC News has been told the price has dropped to $800 this year.MORE TOP STORIES 

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