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US-Canada Dispute Over 2 Islands Could Get Violent

Lobstermen feud over disputed, and lucrative, territory
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2015 12:01 PM CDT

(Newser) – This might be news to Americans who don't make their living catching lobsters, but the US and Canada have been arguing for decades now over who owns two islands in the Atlantic between Maine and New Brunswick. They're called Machias Seal and North Rock, and the islands themselves aren't of much use to any creatures other than puffins, explains Maclean's. The problem is that the water around them, called the "gray zone," is flush with lobsters, and tensions are rising between lobstermen from the two countries. It's been especially bad lately because lobster prices are rising. “Somebody is going to get killed," says the chair of the Maine Lobster Zone Council. "We've had bad years in the past and got lucky, but this is the worst year I've ever seen."

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Both Maclean's and the CBC explain that locals on both sides of the border have mostly kept things under control for years. (In one high-profile exception, an American lost his thumb in equipment eight years ago while "jostling" with a Canadian over territory, notes Maclean's.) This year, however, outsiders from Nova Scotia have moved in to fish the waters, too, and they're reportedly ignoring long-held rules about who gets to work when. "When you've got Canadian guys feuding with other Canadian guys, on top of us—that's a flare-up, too," a Maine lobsterman tells the CBC. Both governments claim sovereignty, and neither seems willing to budge. (In the mood for Maine lobster? This beer now exists.)

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