The border war between the Unites States and Canada is heating up. (Wait… what?) There is apparently a hundreds year old land dispute between our two nations which has never been officially resolved. It involves two tiny, treeless hunks of rock off the coast of the northern border of Maine, called North Rock Island and Machias Seal Island. Their combined permanent human population is… zero. The larger of the two has a lighthouse on it which the Canadians maintain and there’s a science station manned by visiting researchers who want to study the islands’ only real, permanent population composed of approximately 11,600 puffins.
So who cares? Apparently the lobster fishermen do, and with prices for the tasty crustaecians hitting all time highs, the tension between American and Canadian fishermen (lobstermen?) is heating up. (From Business Insider)
During normal times, the dispute seems to be little more than an annoyance. But apparently this year, there are real problems because the price of lobster is so high ($5.50 a pound in that area, compared to $4 the previous year), according to Zane Schwartz in Maclean’s.
The conflict bubbles to the surface every few years, when a bellicose lobsterman on one side or the other gets quoted in the press and sets the other side off. But things are different this year. Due to the high price of lobster, new lobstermen have entered the fray, and they are ignoring unwritten rules that have kept the conflict on a low simmer since 1783.
Given the well known propensity of Canadians to be polite to a fault, you might think this is much ado about nothing. But there are fears that things are already turning violent.
“Somebody is going to get killed. We’ve had bad years in the past and got lucky, but this is the worst year I’ve ever seen,” says American John Drouin, chair of the Maine Lobster Zone Council district in charge of the grey zone. Drouin fears things are even more dangerous than they were eight years ago, when Maine lobsterman Patrick Feeney had his thumb ripped off. It got caught as he was trying to free his equipment while jostling with a Canadian for territory.
And if you ask the American lobster trappers, the Canadians are nothing like their purported gentle, reasonable reputation. In fact, they’re savages. (From Maclean’s, some emphasis added)
Canadian fishermen set lobster traps in the grey zone from July to November. The Americans have a much longer season. Drouin, who has been fishing lobster off the coast of Maine for 37 years, is fed up with what he sees as reckless and unpunished lawbreaking. “Canadians are like Vikings. They’ll rape and pillage and not give a s–t, because they can still go home [after their short season],” says Drouin.
How much of this is a dispute that the American government even knows about, to say nothing of caring? It doesn’t sound like we’ve been making any sort of serious pitch to officially declare ownership. The Canadians run the light house. They manage the science station. These are uninhabitable piles of rock in a place which is probably only two bad summers away from being covered by a glacier in most years. I get that the lobsters are valuable and all and our fisherman should certainly have access, but surely there could be some sort of first come, first served agreement reached. But perhaps not. After all… we are talking about the Canadians.
People’s fingers are being ripped off by these rapey, pillaging Canadian vikings. I always knew that maple syrup and Labatt Blue drunken bear image was a front. You can never trust the Canadians as we’ve known since they sided with the Brits in a war against us back in the day. If they want to play games and bang their boats up against ours, let’s see how they like competing with an aircraft carrier. And if Obama won’t send one in there immediately I expect all the Republican candidates to weigh in as to how they would handle it.
In the meantime, here’s some good old War on Canada footage to get you in the fighting spirit. And then you can chat about whatever you like. It’s Saturday afternoon, after all, so have at it.