Is your super fund investing in commercial property?

Although you might not know it, there’s a very high chance you already have a stake in a piece of commercial real estate in Australia.

That is if you are one of the 16 million superannuation fund members across the country.

But how many of us could rattle off the addresses – or even the types of buildings – that our retirement money is invested in? It’s a pertinent question when considering the vast sums of money tied up in super and recent moves to force superannuation funds to disclose their holdings.

Superannuation assets totalled a whopping $3 trillion at the end of 2020, according to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Of that, $2 trillion was tied up in regulated superannuation funds.

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Super Ratings executive director Kirby Rappell said funds generally invested in six main asset classes: local shares, international shares, fixed interest (i.e. bonds), cash, property and alternatives.

“Typically what you find is that 8 or 9 per cent of a funds’ default portfolio is usually sitting in property,” Mr Rappell said.

Taking into account only regulated superannuation funds, that equates to at least $160 billion worth of superannuation money parked in property.

Show me the money

The most common ways super funds invest in property is via listed or unlisted property funds, which own large pools of assets – although some super funds will invest in individual property directly.

Listed funds are known as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) and are listed on the stock exchange. “That might be Lendlease, Mirvac or Stockland,” Mr Rappell said.

“But one of the big things we’ve seen in the past 10 or 15 years is the rise of super funds investing in unlisted property.”

Unlisted property is seen as less volatile than equity markets, according to Mary Power, principal consultant at financial consultancy firm JANA.

“We’ve also liked unlisted property because it provides a buffer against equity market risk,” Ms Power said. “Specifically with unlisted you want access to income and capital growth that individual property sectors can provide.”

Retail and offices make up the most significant areas of investment followed by the growing industrial sector. Residential property was the least developed sector from an institutional perspective but Ms Power said interest in build-to-rent schemes was growing.

Super funds and property funds will look to change the make-up of their property portfolio, depending on how each sector is performing.

For example, Ms Power noted a shift to invest in industrial property following the e-commerce boom during the pandemic last year.

Overall, it is desirable for the different property sectors that a fund invests in to move out of sync with each other.

“That’s the beauty of having a diversified portfolio; you don’t want everything going the one way in a downturn,” Ms Power said. “Retail for instance has had a very tough time in the past couple of years.”

Disclosing the details

Those interested in finding out the nitty-gritty details of super fund investments could have their work cut out for them.

“To date, it’s probably been harder than it should be for people to see where their money is allocated,” Mr Rappell said. 

There has been a push to increase transparency in the industry, with most funds publishing financial statements or quarterly investment reports on their websites. “Usually, you’ve got to delve for the details,” Mr Rappell said.

So, is it possible to find out if your super fund has invested in properties that might clash with your ethics?

If the super fund is invested in a property fund, it becomes much harder to track down, Mr Rappell said. “Then it’s probably in a pool fund … and you’ll probably go crazy before you find the answer.”

Ms Power said the area of ethics was never black and white.

“Your ethics will be different to mine. It’s such an individual thing,” she said. “You need to make your enquiries to find the fund for you.”

I’m all for disclosure and finding out where the physical bricks and mortar is, and your super fund should be able to find that out.”

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Commercial tenants and landlords at a ‘stalemate’ after rent relief measures end

There is an air of uncertainty as commercial landlords and tenants enter into lease agreements and negotiations as stimulus measures and rental relief efforts introduced last year are wound up across the country.

In Victoria, the moratorium on rent increases and notices to vacate ended on March 28, paving the way for rent hikes and evictions as landlords weigh up new tenants.

Rental relief agreements between landlords and tenants have now ended in all states except Queensland, where the relief period was extended to April 30. The changes coincide with the end of the federal government’s JobKeeper payments to COVID-affected businesses, raising concerns it could spell a wave of distressed selling.

Commercial property adviser Tim Maunsell, of Maunsell Property Consultants, said businesses and landlords had so far been reluctant to enter into negotiations over new agreements.

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“It’s all been put in the too-hard basket,” he said. “It’s a stalemate. Everyone is just waiting to see what will occur.” 

Mr Maunsell said the situation was complicated by the fact that each tenancy had been affected differently throughout the pandemic.

“Supermarkets haven’t been negatively impacted at all while places like Flight Centre obviously have.”

Larger landlords were therefore unsure of what precedent to set for future agreements. “If they make a decision on one, they have to make a decision on 1000,” he said.

Throughout the pandemic, Mr Maunsell acted as a mediator between landlords and tenants  in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, negotiating reduced rent for affected businesses.

“The worst offenders were the bigger landlords, to be honest. I know they have to look after the shareholders but they didn’t really look after the little fellas,” he said. “The ‘ma and pop’ superannuation funds went out of their way to help tenants and avoid any vacancy.”

Mr Maunsell said some some landlords would be looking to recoup their losses, adding that he knew of one landlord whose monthly rental income fell from $50,000 to $12,000, which barely covered his outgoings.

Vacancy rates would “absolutely” be influenced by the end of relief measures, he said. “There’ll be a lot of churn. It’s still pretty hairy at the moment.”

Small Business Council of Australia chief executive Peter Strong said he was very concerned for businesses that were in debt to their landlords.

“I’m worried landlords will apply their normal business practices, which is to take businesses to court to get their money. That’s when people lose houses,” he said. “They’ve got a history of doing that.”

Mr Strong said some property owners would prefer an empty shop than reduced rent.

“The value of a retail property is based on the rent you can get. If the rent drops, so does the value of the property,” he said. “That’s the issue we have now. What is the valuation of retail and offices?”

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said most landlords and property managers had shown empathy to tenants while battling their own hardships.

“Commercial tenants received some good support from government through legislated rent reductions,” she said. “It is important that landlords make sure that they access the incentives put in place to assist them manage the loss in rent.”

In Melbourne’s CBD, office landlords are bracing for tough conditions over the next two years. Vacancy rates are expected to rise from 8.2 per cent in January to a peak of 11.1 per cent in January 2022, according to a research report from Knight Frank.

Knight Frank director of office leasing Hamish Sutherland said Melbourne’s office market was nevertheless well placed to weather the COVID-19 storm.

“The first steps to recovery have begun as the rollout of the vaccine commences and office workers start returning to the city,” he said.

“As the year unfolds we anticipate leasing activity to pick up as businesses make decisions on how their operations will adjust to life post-COVID.”

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Innovative ways small businesses can translate social responsibility into commercial success

We all know the narrative; “rich hoarder sacrifices his morals to climb his way to wealth”. Think Scrooge McDuff. Or billionaire Bezos. But how necessary is it? As the Founder of We the Wild, a thriving plant care business, I set out to prove that social responsibility can actually be good for the heart, and the wallet.

I’ve spent years experimenting with ways to shift the dial when it comes to social responsibility in business. From eCommerce to electricians, the opportunity to improve your business, while changing the world around you, is abundant.

What is social responsibility?

I get it. It can all sound a bit…wafty, a bit intangible! But as B-Corporation defines, it’s a socially responsible business when it “balances purpose and profit”. It could be adopting a more sustainable operation strategy, reducing environmental impact or supporting social or cultural rights, to name a few. Basically it’s “doing good”.

Why does being socially responsible matter?

Did you know that small businesses contribute approximately 34 per cent of Australia’s industry added value? That’s a whole lot of power! Now imagine every one of us making even a small positive change and communicating it effectively to our customers and clients, in a way that bulky corporations cannot. Suddenly, small businesses are even more compelling for Australian consumers, who are already demanding more from businesses and brands.

Easier said than done, I hear you say!

A lot of us are hurting. A lot of us are just scraping by after the year that was. But from crisis comes opportunity. But building more loyal customers, dedicated employees, and greater revenue start with the completely free, completely easy and completely enjoyable task of defining your social mission… your ‘why’.

How do I define my social mission?

The most successful social mission solves a core customer tension, while “doing good”. For example, a plumbing company would find that diversifying the gender of its workforce broadens appeal to a wider range of customers. That’s a win-win situation. At We the Wild, I identified environmental activism as a shared value with our customers. We implemented tree planting initiatives and built a circular supply chain. That benefits our business by differentiating ourselves from the competition and improves the environment.

How do I execute this mission?

Just like other facets of your business, it’s best to build a step-by-step plan. Start with the simplest changes you can make tomorrow. It might be using more diverse imagery in your marketing (also diversifies your business’s appeal). It might be dedicating half a day a month to volunteer with your team (also great social content opportunity and a way to find new customers). Think about how you can start with a low-risk, low impact solution as fast as possible. You’ll be surprised about the hidden benefits.

How do I communicate my mission?

Articulate your social responsibility in one sentence only (tip: work with a copywriter on this). Once you’re happy with it, paste it wherever and whenever you can. We add our mission to create “products that are better for plants, people and the planet” to everything. It’s on our website, our flyers and our advertising. It’s the first thing job candidates read on their job description. And it’s the lead slide on our investor decks. Once you’re happy with it, communicate it far and wide.

From here, you can start implementing initiatives that will boost sales and customer loyalty. Read about these tactics in my next article.

Josh Armstrong, Founder and Director, We the Wild Plant Care

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Investor bonanza as commercial property listings start to flow

Mr Talbot said the assets were highly sought after, with a number of bids from both local and offshore investors.

“As well as domestic interest, we are seeing interest from overseas buyers, who see Australia as a safe haven as it has managed COVID-19 very well and its fundamentals are strong,” Mr Talbot said.

Another asset for sale is 398-402 Sussex Street Haymarket, known as the ‘Workhouse’ and was originally purpose designed by the late Harry Seidler.

The eight storey freehold office building was reconstructed originally in 1990 and extensively refurbished in 2019 to include five levels of office space, two ground floor prime retail tenancies, a basement retail tenancy plus a rooftop terrace.

Andy Hu and Jordan Lee of Savills Australia are advising on the sale and said Sydney’s Haymarket precinct is undergoing an extensive regeneration and benefit from the completion of new developments.

Savills Australia’s Nick Lower, Ollie Ridley and Selin Ince are also selling an approved healthcare development site at143 Stoney Creek Road, formerly owned by NSW State Government.

The proposed scheme is approved for three levels of medical accommodation and three levels of basement parking.

398-402 Sussex Street Haymarket, “Workhouse” was originally purpose designed by the late architect Harry Seidler

Elsewhere Sydneysiders’ reluctance to use public transport in the wake of COVID-19 has encouraged an investor to test the market with their Lower North Shore, BP-leased petrol station.

LJ Hooker Commercial Sydney co-director Steven Kruyer is marketing the BP petrol station, located on 498 Willoughby Rd, Willoughby. In addition to the current lease, Jasbe Petroleum Group, operating as BP Willoughby, holds three, five-year options on the 803 sq m site.

Further north the wealthy Flannery family has listed its The Sun hotel at Byron Bay, and are expecting more than $10 million. It is run by the KTQ Group which is owned by the family and steered by Peggy Flannery.

CBRE Hotels national director Wayne Bunz and national pubs director Paul Fraser are advising on the sale and said there have already had some inquiries.

“The listing follows a series of prominent Northern NSW sales, including Bower Byron Bay, Byron at Byron, Byron Bay Beach Hotel, The Farm Byron Bay and the recently recent announced sales of the Lennox Hotel and the Byron Bay Backpackers,” CBRE agents said.

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Frida Mom commercial during the Golden Globes portrayed how difficult breastfeeding is

“Breast is best” was a phrase I had heard long before I pushed my 6-pound, 12-ounce son into the world. Very few people, including the labor and delivery nursing staff, made it a point to simply ask if I even planned on breastfeeding — it was assumed I would. So when my newborn arrived after more than 24 hours of intense and painful labor, he was immediately pushed toward my breasts. To be honest, even the joy of seeing his face for the very first time did not erase the fatigue of that moment, nor the slight sliver of resentment I felt at the thought of instantly becoming my son’s de facto milk bottle.

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Australian commercial metro radio fans hit over 11 million last year

SYDNEY, NSW, Australia – The Australian metropolitan commercial radio audience grew by 2% to nearly 11.1 million listeners in 2020, in a year dominated by COVID-19 which saw the number of people listening at home jump by eight per cent to 6.4 million, according to a statement published by Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) on Tuesday.

An annual listening summary, based on an average of the five official GfK metropolitan radio surveys conducted in 2020, shows radio’s cumulative audience has climbed by 10% over the past five years, aided by the expansion of digitally enabled platforms (DAB+, Streaming or App).

Bright spots included a 2% lift in listeners aged 25-39, which comprised the largest age group at nearly 3 million people, a 5% increase in audiences during mornings (9am to midday, Mon Fri) and a 13% rise in audiences for DAB+ only stations.

“Radio proved its adaptability in emergencies and continued to deliver for listeners in a year where we contended with floods, bushfires, a global pandemic and digital disruption,” CRA Chief Executive Officer Joan Warner said Tuesday.

“Radio also showed that while we’re dominant in the car, we’re not reliant on any one platform or place of listening. There has been a strong lift in listeners across digital, mobile and DAB+ platforms and we will continue to evolve and grow those opportunities in 2021.”

Overall, commercial radio reached 77% of all people aged 10+ each week in the five major metro markets and was popular across all age groups. Commercial radio reached 87% of people aged 10-17, 75% of those aged 18-24, 76% of 25-39s, 80% of 40-54s, 78% of 55-64s and 67% of those aged 65 and over.*

Commercial DAB+ only stations attracted nearly 1.6 million listeners, an increase of 13% or 180,000 people compared to 2019. More than half of those listened to DAB+ stations at home and 676,000 listened in the car.

Audiences spent a total of 13 hours and 12 minutes listening to commercial radio each week.

Working from home and travel restrictions resulted in changes to listening behaviour. Morning audiences rose 5% to 6.3 million, while afternoon audiences (midday to 4pm) were up 3% to 6.9 million, overtaking drive on 6.8 million. Breakfast remained the most popular time to listen, with an audience of 7.5 million each week.

Forty-nine percent of time spent listening to radio took place at home (up from 42% in 2019), while 31% of listening was in the car, down from 36% previously, 17% took place at work and 2% elsewhere#.

The first radio survey period for 2021 began this week with results to be released by GfK on March 11.

Sources: GfK Radio Ratings, Surveys 1-2, 6-8, 2020 SMBAP Cume 000’s. Total People 10+, Mon-Sun, midnight to midnight unless stated otherwise, all commercial listening (including commercial DAB+ stations). Comparisons made with Surveys 1-2, 6-8 2019 and 2015. *Cume % ~Time Spent Listening (h:mm) #Share of Listening calculated based on average audience (000s).

(Photo credit: Bruce Mars | Unsplash).

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China’s commercial jet ambitions shaken as US blacklists COMAC

HONG KONG — The inclusion of China’s state-owned commercial jet maker on the Trump administration’s latest sanction list could disrupt Beijing’s plans to carve out a big piece of the lucrative industry for its homegrown champion, given the company’s high dependence on U.S. suppliers.

Beijing’s hopes of challenging the lock held by Boeing and Airbus on the large commercial jet market rest primarily on Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, or COMAC.

With China forecast to be the biggest source of demand for such planes in the coming years, COMAC has been winning an increasing share of local orders for smaller jets with its ARJ21 model. But it is seeking to move into the mid-sized market with the C919, which is still undergoing flight tests.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced on Thursday that it would add COMAC, phone maker Xiaomi and seven other Chinese companies to an official list of companies judged to be linked to the Chinese military and thus meriting special scrutiny. Under an executive order signed last year by U.S. President Donald Trump, American investors must halt investing in such companies as of this week.

Unlike Xiaomi, COMAC is not a publicly traded company, so the investment ban will likely have limited direct impact, though the company has sold bonds domestically. The risk, though, is that the addition to the military list sets up COMAC’s addition to the so-called entity list maintained by the U.S. Department of Commerce. That would then restrict American companies’ ability to export products to the plane maker.

Referring to the odds that the latest military-linked companies will be added to the entity list, Edison Lee, an equity analyst at Jefferies in Hong Kong, compared their situation to that of Chinese oil company CNOOC, which the Commerce Department singled out on Thursday, 43 days after its inclusion on the military list.

“The risk looks high,” Lee said, adding that Xiaomi and the others will follow the same path.

That would be a big problem for COMAC. The engines for its C919 are made by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric and France’s Safran. The ARJ21’s engines come from Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney.

On Friday, a regional spokeswoman for Pratt & Whitney referred questions about the impact of the U.S. Defense Department’s move to parent company Raytheon Technologies. A Raytheon spokesperson said the company would look into the situation, while GE had not responded to Nikkei Asia by the time of this article’s publication.

COMAC’s website includes a number of other U.S. companies as “tier one” suppliers of key component systems, including Honeywell, B/E Aerospace, Donaldson, Moog and Parker Hannifin.

In its statement on Thursday about COMAC, the Pentagon said it was determined to highlight and counter China’s “military-civil fusion development strategy,” which supports the modernization of the People’s Liberation Army through securing advanced technologies and expertise via private companies and universities. Though COMAC focuses on commercial aircraft, aviation technologies can often be redeployed for military purposes.

State-backed companies have long sought to absorb foreign aerospace technologies, especially for engine making.

Stanley Chao, a veteran American consultant to the aviation industry, said on Friday that it was “common knowledge” in the industry that COMAC has military ties.

For Chao, who has connected a number of American “tier two” suppliers to COMAC over the years, “the damage has been done already in terms of technology transfer.”

Chinese state companies “now have the basic foundation and the knowledge to do [manufacturing] on their own,” he said, after years of absorbing knowledge from foreign partners and suppliers. He added that non-American companies are ready to step into any openings created by exiting U.S. suppliers.

COMAC is a strategically important company for Beijing. It was set up to fulfill the country’s dream of building and producing proprietary mid-to-large-sized commercial jets, a sector dominated by the U.S. and Europe.

With the original approval given by the State Council in 2002, the company took off in 2008 with an investment by the central government organization Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, or SASAC, and several other major large-scale state-owned enterprises, such as the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, or AVIC.

According to COMAC’s latest annual report, published in April 2020, SASAC owns 52% of the company. The first nine months of 2020 were rough for COMAC, with its revenue down 35% from the same period a year earlier to 2.73 billion yuan ($422 million), while its net loss bloated by almost sixfold to 1.54 billion yuan.

Unlike Huawei Technologies, which was a major global player in telecommunications equipment and smartphones when it was added to the entity list, COMAC’s sales have been overwhelmingly domestic. With the state controlling most of China’s airline and jet leasing sectors, COMAC has been getting a steady stream of local orders for both the ARJ21 and C919.

China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings, a subsidiary of state-owned China Everbright Group, last week ordered 60 ARJ21s as part of a plan to promote Chinese aircraft in Southeast Asia. According to research by Scott Kennedy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, COMAC has received 1,065 orders for the C919 from 32 companies, all but two Chinese.

The Chinese airline industry is expected to order 8,725 jets with more than 50 passenger seats over the next 20 years, according to a COMAC projection from last November that valued those planes at about $1.3 trillion based on 2019 catalog prices.

Up for question is whether the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will maintain the policy trajectory of blacklisting Chinese companies.

Chao expects the new administration to hold off adding COMAC to the entity list given that “a lot of American jobs” would be at risk.

“Too much future business is at stake, and the damage has already been done,” he said.

Speaking more broadly about the latest Defense Department list additions, Jefferies’ Lee said that whether a move to the entity list proceeds “will give us a good indication on what direction Biden’s China policy will be heading.”

“We are confident there will be some de-escalation of the China-U.S. tech war, with the U.S. likely moving more to technology-specific export restrictions, rather than company-specific (ones),” he said.

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Commercial space, restaurant proposed in $1.3 million DA

Commercial premises and a restaurant have been proposed in a new development application for a South Murwillumbah property.

An application for $1.3 million worth of works at 11 River St was formally lodged with Tweed Shire Council by RJ Barry Constructions Pty Ltd on Wednesday.

The site is home to an existing dwelling.
According to documents submitted with the council, the dwelling “has been refurbished and is in good condition” and would like be sold and relocated.


The home already on the property at 11 River St, South Murwillumbah.

The DA seeks approval for a mixed-use development involving about 228 sqm of commercial premises on the first floor and a restaurant above it.

Nine carparking spaces would be provided and there would be lift and stair access to the upper floor.

Under the proposal, two trees are to be removed from the property.

The DA has not set out “specific uses” for the restaurant area and as such, no proposed hours of use have been set out.

Plans for the proposed mixed-use development.

Plans for the proposed mixed-use development.

The proposal seeks a 1.12m variation to building height limits in the area.

In a document prepared for the applicant, Evolve Planning Services said a rear drainage swale adjacent the flood prone Tweed River contributed to the non-compliant building height.

In the report, they said this departure from the 10m building height limit would be “indiscernible to the casual observer”.

The applicant says a rear drainage swale has contributed to the proposed building exceeding the 10m height limit.

The applicant says a rear drainage swale has contributed to the proposed building exceeding the 10m height limit.

They have argued strict compliance with the existing limit would be “unreasonable and unnecessary in the circumstances” because the proposed height “is unlikely to significantly

detract on the presentation of the building from River St” and “allows for a consistent building height alignment and roof form”.

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Sun Hung Kai Properties, Chinachem Group may bid in rare ‘two-envelope’ tender for prime commercial plot next to Hong Kong’s IFC

Hong Kong’s biggest developer by value, Sun Hung Kai Properties, and Chinachem Group said they may bid for a prime plot of commercial land to be sold via a rare tender process that takes into account participants’ design plans as well as cash bids.The government is using a “two-envelope” approach for the sale of New Central Harbourfront Site 3, meaning the winner will be determined by assessing both price and design proposal. This deviates from the practice of awarding sites based on the…

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Mi’kmaq stay ashore as commercial lobster season opens in largest N.S. fishing area

As the commercial inshore lobster fishing season begins in one of the largest and most lucrative fishing areas in Canada, Mi’kmaw fishers who’d typically be out on the water will remain ashore, looking for ways to make ends meet.

The fishing area LFA 34 on the southwest shore of Nova Scotia has been a national focal point since Sept. 17, when Sipekne’katik First Nation launched the first Mi’kmaw-regulated lobster fishery in Nova Scotia and triggered weeks of often violent opposition from non-Indigenous commercial fishery workers and their supporters.

The First Nation would typically operate under nine of the federally-approved commercial licences, but Sipekne’katik Chief Mike Sack said in November those licenses would not be fished in 2020, for fear of “continued retaliation, violence, property damage and systemic economic racism.”

Sipekne’katik’s self-regulated fishery, which was launched in phases to measure its scope and impact on the existing fisheries, is set to wind down in the coming weeks and halt completely by Dec. 17, according to band officials.

Lack of income will ‘hit hard’

Mi’kmaw fisher Arvin Knockwood, of Sipekne’katik, has been fishing lobster for two years under the band’s federally-regulated commercial licences, and since September under the Mi’kmaw-regulated licences. He said not having the income from the commercial season could make it a difficult winter and spring for his family.

“It’s definitely going to hit me hard,” he said. 

“I won’t get [employment insurance aid] for the spring and summer months. I won’t get the actual money from commercial fishing. So, I’m basically just sitting around waiting for next year.” 

Sipekne’katik fisher Arvin Knockwood says he’d typically be fishing during the commercial season. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Knockwood, his fiancée and four children under the age of nine live in Sipekne’katik. His fiancée has a steady income which will allow the family to make ends meet but they’ve been looking for ways to supplement his lost earnings. 

Anticipating the loss, Knockwood said he’d purchased Christmas gifts for his children in November.

“My kids are taken care of, so I’m happy about that anyway,” he said.

Knockwood said the financial loss this season is easier to handle knowing the progress and attention the Mi’kmaq have earned since September through the assertion of their treaty right to fish and earn a living.

As well, he said, the money isn’t worth the potential safety risks to Mi’kmaw fishers. 

“Hopefully next year we can do commercial [fishing] and there’ll be no problems, but I really don’t know how next year is going to play out,” he said.

Fishing now ‘a big, daunting task’

Though the band has cited safety concerns for its sitting out the 2020 commercial season, it’s not the only reason why Mi’kmaw fishers have been staying ashore lately. 

Sipekne’katik fisher Jason Marr, who was trapped in a Middle West Pubnico, N.S., lobster pound by a mob of commercial fishermen days before it was burned to the ground, said his fishing has all but stopped because he can no longer afford to replace gear destroyed or taken by opposing fishers or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

“The [commercial] fishermen are going to go fishing, they’re going to catch their million dollars worth of lobster like they do every other year,” he said.

“Geez, I wish I was capable of it … but that’s a very big, daunting task to consider.” 

Marr said he’s unable to even calculate the value of the gear he’s lost since September, given how frequently he and other Mi’kmaq have needed to source new, used and donated lobster traps, buoys and fishing line. Without being able to recoup costs by selling the catch, Marr said he’s been stretched thin by fishing expenses.

“This is an ongoing thing,” he said.  

“You put 10 traps out, they take 10 traps. You put 10 out, they take 10.”

Sipekne’katik fisher Jason Marr says he’s unable to continue fishing lobster during the commercial season in LFA 34 because of the amount of his fishing gear that’s been taken or destroyed in the last two months. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Marr believes he’s had Mi’kmaw-regulated traps seized recently by DFO, though he said they have not contacted him to confirm it. Having fished lobster in the area for over two decades, Marr said he sees a pattern of mistreatment toward Mi’kmaw fishers by DFO, non-Indigenous fishers and fishing service providers. 

“Wear [the Mi’kmaq] down. That’s a very old tactic,” he said.

“That’s what they do. They’ve exhausted me, and I’m one of the resourceful ones.” 

Marr said he’s frustrated that, despite a renewed push to assert his nation’s treaty right and the potential for dramatic change, Mi’kmaw fishermen are still struggling to make a living as a result of opposition.

“I can’t speak for [other Mi’kmaw fishers], but this year is the most lobster traps I’ve ever fished. I’ve never fished more than 50 at one given time. That’s a big deal for us.”

To better understand what has changed – and what has not – since the 1999 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Mi’kmaw fisherman Donald Marshall Jr., CBC Indigenous reviewed two decades of coverage on Mi’kmaw fishing rights. 9:40

‘We definitely don’t want trouble’

Some maintain that it’s not worth the risk right now for Mi’kmaq to fish with their typically modest vessels for modest earnings. 

The rest of LFA 34 reaches for hundreds of kilometres around the southwest part of Nova Scotia. Mi’kmaw boat captain Jerry Augustine of Sipekne’katik said the size of the Mi’kmaw fleet is so small compared the non-Indigenous commercial fishery, some of the fishers wouldn’t be comfortable being isolated among them. He said the Mi’kmaq are constantly keeping an eye on each other, which has been essential to their success.

“When we’re fishing moderate livelihood, we’re only here in [St. Mary’s] bay,” he said. 

“If anybody gets into trouble, it’s not much to jump on another [Mi’kmaw] boat …but we don’t think anyone else will help us if we break down out there. That’s a big factor. Nobody wants to get hurt.” 

Sipekne’katik councillor and fisherman Jerry Augustine. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Augustine said he’s fished his moderate livelihood licence in St. Mary’s Bay relatively unnoticed by opposing fishermen lately. It’s been one benefit from the commercial season drawing near, he said.

“We definitely don’t want trouble,” Augustine said.

“We just want to we don’t want to worry about Christmas either. I’m sure that’s what every other commercial fisherman is [saying]; they’re going to take care of Christmas. Well, a lot of our guys want to take care of Christmas, too.”

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