"This is a ticking time bomb out here," says Brian Cates of Cutler, Maine, who has been fishing the contested waters near the Bay of Fundy since he was 9 years old. “It’s just a matter of time before someone gets killed.”
The United States and Canada have shared the world’s longest peaceful border for centuries. However, an old conflict dating back to the end of the Revolutionary War, over 277 square miles of disputed and increasingly lucrative waters, has sown discord and threatens to shatter the tranquility between the neighbors.
LOBSTER WAR documents this dispute, which is symptomatic of the much larger struggle of climate change. The swath of water in question, known as the "Gray Zone," surrounds Machias Seal Island at the entrance to the Bay of Fundy. These waters were traditionally fished by U.S. lobstermen. But as the Gulf of Maine has warmed, lobsters have migrated north, and the Gray Zone's previously modest lobster population has surged.
Now, Canadians have begun to assert their sovereignty in the area. "It's Canadian water, plain and simple, [and] if it’s going to be fished, it’s going to be fished by Canadians," says Lawrence Cook, chair of the lobster-fishing district in Grand Manan, who has defied death threats from Americans since he started fishing the Gray Zone in 2002. "We are there to stay."