Friday, May 29, 2015

World War III: Real Canadian Bacon

(First in an occasional series as time and events allow)

“It’s like they want a war.” 

It's not a sequel. It's for real:

"US, Canadian fishermen at war over lobster waters; Aggressively assert claims over disputed area as prices increase" by David Abel Globe Staff  May 28, 2015

BAY OF FUNDY — There have been death threats on both sides of the watery divide between the United States and Canada....

The two countries have long shared the world’s longest border peaceably, but a centuries-old conflict over 277 square miles of disputed, increasingly lucrative waters has sown discord and threatens to shatter the tranquility between Maine and New Brunswick.

Fueling the tension is the rising price of lobster, which has attracted more Canadian fishermen to the lobster-rich waters of the so-called gray zone, the disputed territory fished mainly by Americans until a decade ago. Both countries allow their lobstermen to fish there and acquiesce to the presence of their neighboring fishermen, though each claims exclusive ownership of the waters.

Things are boiling over, huh?

“This is a ticking time bomb out here,” said Brian Cates, 61, of Cutler, Maine, who has been fishing the contested waters in the Bay of Fundy since he was 9 years old. “It’s just a matter of time before someone gets killed.”

Better torture the lobster before the bomb goes off then. 

The war-framing terminology is really not slicing well with me today, sorry.

He recalled how a Canadian patrol boat several years ago hauled up his and his son’s traps, after a line drifted into Canadian waters. He sped over to the boat and threatened to ram it if the officers didn’t return his gear, telling them, “I’m going to sink you.”

The Canadians returned his gear.

But Canadian fishermen insist the Americans should get used to their presence.

“It’s our bottom, and we’re going to be there to stress our sovereignty,” said Brian Guptill, 51, president of the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association, who has been fishing nearby since the 1980s, but plans to start fishing in the gray zone for the first time this summer. “I’m going to go there to raise hell for a while.”

He added, “There are going to be guys on both sides of the border slashing ropes and instigating problems.”

American and Canadian law enforcement authorities, who cooperate and speak with each other regularly as they enforce their respective laws, worry about the potential for violence.

This will be used as something that justifies a North American Union.

“The tensions are definitely mounting,” said Mark Murray, a specialist in the Maine Marine Patrol for the past 17 years, as he and an armed officer puttered through the disputed waters on a recent afternoon.

In the past year, he and his colleagues said, they have received dozens of complaints from US fishermen related to the rising number of Canadians setting traps in the gray zone.

They have heard lobstermen vow to bring guns on the water and have received reports of US and Canadian boats pulling on the opposite ends of the same line. They recalled how one US lobsterman lost a thumb while trying to disentangle his traps from Canadian lines.

As a result, the Maine Marine Patrol has quadrupled the amount of time its officers patrol the gray zone, especially at night, when Canadian laws allow their fishermen to be on the water but Maine bans their lobstermen from working.

“We’ve heard guys say that if we won’t do our jobs, they’ll take matters into their own hands,” said Jason Leavitt, a Maine Marine Patrol officer.

The conflict began at the end of the Revolutionary War, when the newly independent Colonies received all islands within about 70 miles of the US shore. But the 1783 Treaty of Paris excluded any island that had been part of Nova Scotia.

The two sides emerged from this deal disputing only one speck of land at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy: Machias Seal Island, a treeless, 20-acre rock 10 miles from the Maine coast and 12 miles from Grand Manan Island, which is part of New Brunswick. The Canadians say a 17th-century British land grant proves the island was originally part of Nova Scotia.

Both Canadian and US officials declined requests for interviews. Drew Bailey, a spokesman for the US State Department, offered only a terse statement: “Our longstanding position is that the Machias Seal Island belongs to the United States.”

Is it worth a war?

Officials from Fisheries and Oceans Canada wrote in an e-mail that while they have “excellent relationships” with US law enforcement, they believe they should have exclusive sovereignty over the area.

“Both the waters surrounding Machias Seal Island and the island itself are Canadian,” they wrote.

For centuries, the conflict remained muted. During World War I, the Canadians agreed to allow a small detachment of Marines onto the island to protect the area from German U-boats. Both US and Canadian boats have ferried tourists there for years to glimpse nesting grounds of Atlantic puffins.

Occasionally, people on both sides tried to stoke tensions. For years before he died in 2004, an American tour boat operator, Barna Norton, made an annual pilgrimage to the island to plant an American flag. The maple leaf flag flies over the island’s lighthouse, which Canadians built and have maintained for nearly 200 years to assert their sovereignty, and politicians occasionally make a show of flying out to visit the lighthouse keepers, their constituents.

Though the two countries have resolved other maritime disputes through arbitration, the Canadians have declined American proposals to do so with the gray area, arguing that their claim is beyond question.

Since 2002, Canada has relaxed its fishing regulations to allow more lobstermen to work in the gray zone, including when their lobster season shuts down between July and November.

The rising price of lobster has given Canada even more incentive to assert its sovereignty. Last year, Maine’s lobster catch was valued at a record $457 million, $87 million more than in 2013, the largest one-year increase on record and more than the total value of the fishery 21 years before, according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

The lobsters are supposed to be on the decline due to warming seas. WTF? Must have struck a vein of fat.

Americans complain that the congested area now has tens of thousands of traps on the ocean floor and has become more complicated to fish.

“It’s like they want a war,” said Kristan Porter, 43, a lobsterman out of Cutler, Maine, who learned how to set traps in the area’s powerful tides from his grandfather and has been fishing about 400 traps in the gray zone for the past 20 years. “They keep trying to ratchet up the pressure and turn the knife. We just want them to leave us alone.”

I can empathize with that sentiment in some regards.

The US fishermen say many of the Canadians don’t understand how to set traps in the area’s tricky tides, and their traps often get entangled with the Americans’. The US fishermen also complain that the Canadians don’t have to follow US conservation rules, such as throwing back larger lobsters that serve to replenish the population or having to use expensive lines designed to protect right whales.

The Canadians dismiss the Americans’ environmental concerns.

Bad Canadians!!

They also noted that Canadian fisherman are limited to 375 traps per license, while most Maine fisherman can set 800 traps at a time.

“It’s Canadian water, plain and simple,” said Lawrence Cook, chair of the lobster fishing district in Grand Manan, who defied a death threat he got from an American lobsterman when he started fishing the gray zone in 2002. “So if it’s going to be fished, it’s going to be fished by Canadians.”

He added: “We are there to stay.”

So am I, apparently.


Better strengthen border security!

"Overzealous US-Canada border security hurts both countries" by The Editorial Board   May 24, 2015

For Homeland Security officials, it’s a point of pride. For Canadians, it’s a festering sore point.

Since the 9/11 jihadist attacks, the 5,525-mile-long border between Canada and the United States has been transformed from the world’s friendliest to a high security zone marked by fortified crossing points, thermal “body detectors,” swiveling surveillance cameras, and the occasional low-skimming Blackhawk helicopter or spy drone.

This is a bitter change for Canadians, most of whom live within 100 miles of the US and who — more than Americans — routinely cross the border for shopping, business, or pleasure. These days they are closely questioned and obliged to show a passport. (For decades, a provincial driver’s license sufficed — and was seldom inspected.) The number of Americans travelling to Canada, meanwhile, has dropped.

Both nations have been hurt by what Peter Andreas, a professor of international studies at Brown University, refers to as the “Mexicanization” of the US-Canada border, marked by “increasing militarization and lack of flexibility’’ by the Americans.

I got one word for them: terrorism

The real problem at the US-Canada border is not terrorism or illegal immigration — by best estimates, only about 2 percent of those who enter the United States illegally come by way of Canada — but the failure of two friends to grapple with red tape, bureaucratic procedures, and exaggerated vigilance. 


Instead of focusing on the actual border, both nations should cooperate more closely on “perimeter security” — placing emphasis on using intelligence and law enforcement agencies to keep terrorists and other criminals from entering North America in the first place.

Stop creating them with intelligence services then, dammit!

But while the United States must be willing to relax its border procedures, Canada should be willing to align its visa requirements and entry procedures for foreigners more closely with the United States. At present, Canada still allows certain foreigners — especially those with police records and dubious claims of being “political refugees’’ — who would be ejected from the United States.

Both countries have plenty of reason to seek a less fraught border environment. Each country is the other’s largest trading partner, with almost $2 billion in goods and services crossing the border every day. But studies suggest that heightened security on the US side is costing Canadian businesses and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Part of that comes from commercial transport delays that waste fuel and time. Some is lost tourism. American businesses also suffer when their Canadian customers get sick of dealing with the border.

But perhaps the heaviest cost is in bad feeling and distrust. 

I know whom I do not trust, and I'm reporting on them now. Too many agenda-pushing lies for far too long.

In the European Union, borders have been opened: One can drive from Portugal to Poland unhindered by passport checks or security interrogation. Don’t look for that kind of openness to occur between the US and Canada.

The problem is mindset as much as anything. The United States sees the border as a threat requiring constant vigilance and strengthening. When a lone-wolf jihadist killed a soldier in Ottawa last year — an incident that posed no threat to the United States — Secretary of State John Kerry’s first response was to urge tighter border security. Canadians cringed.

See why I'm cringing?

The countries should also speed up customs procedures by eliminating multiple inspections of the same cargo. Cars built in Japan or South Korea need to clear customs only once when entering the Canada or the United States. Vehicles built in the United States and Canada — major North American automakers keep plants on both sides of the border — are subject to inspections and fees at least seven times as the vehicles go back and forth in various stages of manufacture.

Along the same lines, the United States should accept security inspections done in advance for “trusted companies’’ — companies with long business ties and no violations — that would streamline imports from Canada.

Canada and the United States have already started a “Nexus” program that, after advance intensive security screening, issues special security passes that allow citizens of either country to use special speed lanes at certain airports and ground border controls. It’s a good program, but needs to be expanded.

Meanwhile, the United States should lose the drones — there’s little evidence that they monitor anything more alarming than wayward moose tracks.

Above all, America should show more good will and recognition that the US-Canada relationship is more than just “special” — greater integration with our North American neighbor may be the only way we can realistically compete against the economic might of China.

Look at them $hamele$$ly pushing a North American Union!


No mention of the Canadian help in the fight against U.S-created ISIS or the freedom-destroying terror bill being pushed by the government. 

Nothing but fish scales cooked in pig fat for a Globe breakfast this morning.

UPDATE: Developer agrees to pay $284 million to help clean Lake Champlain

Stinky fish going to screw up that deal?