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Spanish fishermen in the North Atlantic headed back to disputed fishing grounds in international waters today, despite clashes with Canadian patrol boats that forced them out of the area Sunday night.

"We are all going back to the fishing grounds and heading for the disputed area," said Jose Rodriguez, captain of the fishing boat Freidemar 1. "There is no way we are going to give up fishing in these waters. It is our right and we are not giving up, come what may."

The fishing dispute over the Grand Banks has seriously soured relations between Canada and the European Union. Canada claims stocks of Greenland halibut are endangered by overfishing and has imposed a unilateral moratorium on fishing for the halibut until May.

Canada Fisheries Minister Brian Tobin said Sunday that Canadian vessels had cut the nets of a Spanish trawler in the disputed fishing zone.

"We were successful in cutting free both warps of the Pescamaro I," Tobin said before meeting with Canadian delegates to a conference at the United Nations, where he expects to further Canada's complaint over European overfishing.

Tobin said Canada for the first time used a warp cutter, a device used to cut cables that connect nets to trawlers.

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