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AJAs 2016 Finalists


Slug/Label Lobster fishing
Date Aired or Published December 31, 2020
Media outlet where first aired or published: The Coast
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Halifax
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

Stefan first reported on the St. Mary's Bay lobster fishery in the fall of 2019, when he was a journalism student. At that point, he was curious about the history of problems between Indigenous and non-Indigenous lobster fishers, despite the Supreme Court's 1999 decisions enshrining the rights of Indigenous fishers, and he wanted to explore the current state of affairs. He managed to go out on an Indigenous fisher's lobster boat, and he found and spent time with a former Department of Fisheries and Oceans officer who'd been instrumental in defusing tensions after the court decisions were released. He also researched nearly 30 years of legal rulings and media coverage. It was impressive reporting for a student, and it convinced him the peaceful modern fishery was fragile, with a new set of tensions bubbling just below the surface. A year later, in the fall of 2020, Stefan was a freelance journalist when violence in the fishery become one of Canada's biggest non-pandemic stories, proving his sense of the situation correct, and he was in a unique position to cover it. While other media outlets provided harrowing breaking news of assaults and arson, Stefan had the pre-pandemic reporting and contacts to contextualize the news for readers, from visceral scenes of life on the water for today's Indigenous fisher, to court proceedings dating back to 1993. His resulting narrative weaves reporting from 2019 and 2020 together with history, to provide a vivid, informative, enterprising overview of the situation.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Stefan is a freelance journalist, and The Coast cut its freelance budget completely when the pandemic started. But when violence broke out in the fishery, The Coast decided it had to invest in reporting, so found the money to hire Stefan on a two-month contract. He produced several news stories while working on this enterprise feature, narrowly finishing it before the money and his time ran out.

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