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Part of BOTH USA & Canada: Machias Seal Island, Maine 📍
Friends that agree to disagree stay happy! (📍Bonkers Borders Series)
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Part of BOTH USA & Canada:
Machias Seal Island, Maine, USA
There are hundreds of border disputes around the world. They’re usually between places that disagree on a lot of things, and many border disputes are between outright enemies.
It’s much rarer to find a border dispute between two places that are friendly. Because after all, if you’re friends, can’t you just work it out together and compromise?
The US and Canada might be considered besties but there’s a few places still to this day that they can’t agree on. So what happens when your friends but you’ve got a few underlying disagreements? You ignore them obviously.
There are right now five places on the map that the both the US and Canada think are theirs. And that makes for some weird interactions.
Machias Seal Island is both a part of Maine in the US and New Brunswick in Canada. It sits in a 45-mile patch of sea between Maine and Canada called “the grey zone.” Here’s the problem: after the US Revolutionary War, the British drew a line and the US got the island. But they didn’t do a great job of crossing their ts, because 100 years earlier the British gave that same area to an explorer as part of his territory in Canada. Whoops.
Both countries have explicitly ignored the problem ever since. It’s like neither country wants to bring it up. In fact, in 1979 Canada and the US went to international court to settle the Maine boundary line, but they together decided to avoid the issue of Machias Seal Island. They literally left that part out… on purpose.
Today, this grey zone is administered by both the US and Canada, but not together. Canada mans it with a Canadian Coast Guard and a lighthouse while US Coast Guard patrols around it. Fisherman from both countries fish in the area, which is a problem because the US and Canada have different fishing rules. That’s unfortunately led to overfishing and big drop in lobster, because fisherman on both sides take advantage of the purposeful ambiguity.
They also do tours to see the puffins that live there. You think the puffins know their dual passport holders?
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