North American Social Mood Turning Negative

The stock market is at new highs, so investors enjoy more positive mood, but underneath the surface tensions are growing. For example, a possible border war between the USA and Canada.

Maclean's: The tiny islands where Canada and America are at war
The islands have no obvious value. They aren’t strategically located for military purposes and there are no natural resources to be mined. In fact, the islands’ primary residents are 5,800 pairs of nesting puffins. However, the waters around the islands, known by locals as “the grey zone” because both Canada and the U.S. claim that part of the ocean, contain a lucrative lobster fishery.

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. Most of the American lobstermen are from the Maine coast bordering the grey zone, and most of the Canadians are from Grand Manan Island. Both sides admit they have a few hot heads they keep an eye on, but the new lobstermen aren’t from either community, so there is no one to talk them out of rocking the boat.

“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. Laurence Cook, chair of the Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association’s committee in charge of the grey zone, echoes Drouin’s sentiment. “You can work with some people but there are assholes on both sides of the border who take things too far,” says Cook, who received a death threat in 2002.

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