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RCMP release photos, video of persons of interest in fisheries fire

RCMP have released photos and video that they say show persons of interest connected to a fire that destroyed a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., earlier this month.

Police say that near midnight on Oct. 16, officers responded to the fire at the pound, which was significantly damaged.

The facility was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

RCMP’s investigation has determined the fire to be suspicious. They’ve obtained a video of two people which they say was captured near the time of the fire.

The footage that was released Friday shows two men walking through the darkness along a gravel path beside what appears to be a large building flanked by refrigeration gear, crates and other equipment.

A light on the side of the building illuminates the scene, which appears to show one man in a hooded jacket supporting the second man, who is wearing shorts and is limping as he appears to be wearing only one shoe.

At the top of the frame, an intense orange light varies in intensity, but it’s unclear what the source is.

RCMP are looking for the public’s assistance in identifying the two men in the video.

It’s not clear whether either person in the photo and video is the man who sustained life-threatening injuries from the blaze.

That man was taken to hospital and was described by police as a person of interest in the fire.

Anyone with information on the fire or the identities of the persons of interest is asked to contact police at 902-742-9106 or to contact Crime Stoppers.

The fire was the culmination of weeks of violence and tension in response to the launch of a fishery by the Sipekne’katik First Nation.

Traps laid by Mi’kmaw fishers have been repeatedly cut or damaged by mostly non-Indigenous commercial fishermen who oppose the moderate livelihood fishery, saying it is illegal and should not be operating outside of the regulated season.

But there is no seasonal restriction on Indigenous nations in Eastern Canada who have a treaty right to fish or hunt for a “moderate livelihood,” a right that was recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Marshall decision.

Although the term “moderate livelihood” was not formally defined by the court, a subsequent decision ruled that the government has the authority to impose some regulations for the purposes of conservation, subject to nation-to-nation consultations.

However, with no clear definition in the 21 years since the Marshall decision, the Sipekne’katik First Nation launched its self-regulated moderate livelihood fishery in September.

The backlash burst into the public eye on Oct. 13, with mobs of as many 200 people swarming two lobster pounds in southwestern Nova Scotia.

At a facility in New Edinburgh, N.S., the crowd removed and damaged video cameras, then ransacked the lobster pound and storage facility where the lobster catch was to be housed.

A van at the facility was set on fire.

RCMP have charged 31-year-old Michael Burton Nickerson from Yarmouth County with arson causing damage to property in relation to the incident.

Later that night, the same thing occurred at a lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., a Mi’kmaw fisher told Global News.

Jason Marr said he and others were forced to take cover inside the lobster pound as the building’s windows were smashed out and his vehicle was damaged.

“They vandalized (my van) and they were peeing on it, pouring things into the fuel tank, cutting electrical wires,” Marr told Global News by phone on Wednesday.

He also said they smashed the windows of the van, and said that he saw them kicking, punching and hitting it with objects.

Video taken that night and posted on Facebook shows a damaged vehicle at the scene.

Marr alleges the non-Indigenous fishers threatened to “burn” his group out of the building if they didn’t leave and allow them to seize the lobster catch.

“I thought they were going to kill me,” he said.

Eventually, the group was forced to leave. Marr claims the non-Indigenous fishermen destroyed his catch, which he estimated was probably worth $40,000.

It was that lobster pound in Middle West Pubnico, N.S., that was later destroyed by the fire.

With files from The Canadian Press

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