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Letter: Canada and U.S. relations have not always been friendly

The July 10 article published in The Buffalo News on Canadian fishermen operating off the coast of Maine reminded me of a fishing conflict much closer to home.

The “friendly” battle between Canadian fishermen and United States law enforcement has not always been friendly. As a retired Border Patrol agent I occasionally worked boat patrol on Lake Erie and I remember back to the days of the 1960s when New York and Pennsylvania both outlawed the commercial fishing fleets on Lake Erie. The days of net fishing off Dunkirk and Erie were over.

The shallow south side of the lake soon drew the commercial fishermen from Port Colborne to our side to illegally set their nets at night with electronics and return the next night to recover them and their bounty. The game wardens from New York and Pennsylvania were trying to stop them but were frustrated by the unwillingness of the commercials to cooperate. These boats were high sided, ark-like craft with the gunnels standing 8 to 10 feet above the water line. When working the sides were opened, but they could be buttoned up in minutes, and were then impossible to board. When challenged they would simply return to Canadian waters with impunity.

I recall the story of the first encounter with a Pennsylvania game warden who did board a Canadian boat. He was held at gunpoint and kidnapped to Canada where he was released. The Canadian intrusions continued and to my knowledge were never stopped until Canada did away with Great Lakes commercial fishing also.

Try fishing the Canadian side of the river or lake in a New York registered boat without a Canadian license and see what happens. You will soon be minus boat, gear and money.

Dick Mauer


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