Ten miles off the coast of Maine lies a 20 acre, treeless Island, named Machias Seal Island. The only people who live on the island are Canadians who operate the lone lighthouse, Canada inherited the island from Great Britain when it became a colony in 1867, though both the U.S. and Canada claim sovereignty over the island, which is a haven for bird watchers, according to the Washington Post.
But, the island sits in the center of a 277 square mile “gray zone” claimed by both countries, in which lobster fisherman out of both nations compete over some of the best lobster grounds in the world. Even that competition had been relatively benign and peaceful.
However, in late June and early July – dates which correspond conspicuously with Trump’s disastrous performance and dispute with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau where he called Trudeau “weak”, and the U.S. imposition of aluminum and steal tariffs – American Border Patrol boats started to show up in the gray zone, where they stopped only Canadian boats. That’s not how things have traditionally been done, according to the Post’s article:
Both countries insist the waters in the Gray Zone are rightfully theirs, so for years there has been an arrangement whereby each country imposes its fishing rules on its own vessels. That means Coast Guard and fisheries vessels from the United States and Canada do not impose their rules on boats from the other country
Seems like a perfectly acceptable solution, since Canada and the United States have fought small disputes over claimed property in World Court before, and have always specifically chosen to leave the gray zone out, probably out of fear both countries had in losing it, and the fact that they had a workable system, albeit with a few tensions.
Kelly said there are occasionally disputes between lobstermen in the zone because there are different rules for the fishing season and the size of lobsters, for example. “The Mainers have to throw back lobsters that are too small or too big,” he said. “The Canadians don’t have a limit on the big lobsters.”
Maybe because there are far fewer Canadians generally and less lobster fishing?
While there are occasional tensions between lobstermen, the two countries have developed cordial relations over the birdwatching trade. There is a division of the business between a U.S. boat that sails out of Cutler, Me., and a Canadian boat that makes its port on Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick.
So, as with so many other things, there was a situation that worked rather well, noteworthy only for some small local squabbles – and even those seemed to never get too serious, no reports of violence or vandalism – but then Trump got upset at the G7 and decided he needed to assert himself.
“I have no idea where the Border Patrol Boats came from,” said Laurence Cook, a lobsterman and representative of the Fishermen’s Association from nearby Canadian Grand Manan Island. “We’ve never seen U.S. Border Patrol in the Gray Zone before.”
It is hardly a drug smugglers’ paradise. Seems like the act of a petty dictator, trying to make life hard on a nation that made him look silly, and during which he got criticized. I guess we’re showing them who’s boss, or something.