Monday, February 18

Diplomatic Flare-Up Between U.S. and Canadian Lobster Fishermen in the Far Reaches of Maine

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Shades of 1812: A minor diplomatic impasse, a sideshow to the current trade wars, has erupted in the cold, clear waters off Machias Seal Island in the Bay of Fundy about ten miles off the northeastern tip of Maine. It involves American and Canadian fishing boats sharing a gray zone, or territory that has been disputed since the 18thcentury, and claims that the U.S. Border Patrol has stopped at least ten Canadian boats there in the past few weeks. For their part, the Americans are not happy that the Canadians then sent a 100-foot-long Canadian Coast Guard vessel to patrol the area in a show of force.

The current flare-up is the latest involving both the island (home to a Canadian lighthouse, two permanent residents – both Canadians – and a lot of puffins) and a 277-square-mile section of the Bay of Fundy that is rich is lobsters, scallops and cod. The Canadians are upset about being stopped by boats from the U.S. Border Patrol. “They say it’s routine patrolling, but it is the first routine patrolling in 25 years,” Laurence Cook, chairman of the lobster committee of the Gran Manan Fishermen’s Association, told The New York Times.

The Machias Seal Island dispute comes after President Trump left a Group of Seven summit meeting in Quebec with some parting shots at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Trump Administration had announced tariffs on some Canadian goods, and the Canadians responded with their own tariffs on American goods. And it fractures a peaceable working relationship where about 50 Canadian and 50 American fishing boats had been working in the gray area together for many years. Read more:


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