Make sure that US fishing boats don't take Canadian fish!

  1. Ask students if they eat fish. If so, what kinds? Where do they think their fish comes from?
  2. Discuss the fact that Gulf of Maine fishermen fishing near the international boundary between the US and Canada for scallops, redfish, and groundfish have to keep a close watch on their position. If they stray into the other countrys waters, marine patrol officers of that nation can arrest them.

Occasionally, some fishermen, following the grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side theory, cross the international boundary on purpose. (After all, there are no border gates in the middle of the Gulf of Maine!)

  1. Shade in the Gulf of Maine chart to highlight the boundary:
  • American side-yellow
  • the Canadian side-green
  1. Plot the location of these US fishing vessels on a chart of the Gulf of Maine:
Last Chance 43N, 69W
Healthy Living 44N, 67W
Bob's Choice 41N, 66W
  1. You must determine which, if any, of these US fishing vessels have crossed the invisible boundary into Canadian waters.
  2. If so, figure out how far they are from the boundary line.
  3. Traveling at 12 knots, how long will it take to can get back to the US side?
  4. How long would it take a marine patrol boat leaving from St. Andrews, New Brunswick, traveling at 20 knots, to reach the boats if the fishermen remained where they were?
  5. Draw a red line 200 miles from US shores and a blue border 200 miles from the Canadian coastline.

Where do they overlap?

  1. Unlike cattle and sheep, fish are not (usually) kept inside fences. They are free to roam through waters claimed and regulated by different governments.

Discuss how the laws of different states and countries complicate fishery management.

Portland Fish Auction

Visit the Portland Fish Auction at the Portland Fish Exchange on the waterfront. Every weekday, usually at 1:00 PM, a display auction is held at which fish dealers view and bid on various lots of fish divided by species, size, and quality. The Portland Fish Auction is a model for other fishing communities where fish is often bought and sold sight unseen. Portland is the only port that rewards fishermen for taking care of their fish at sea (packing it in ice, stacking the fish to prevent bruising or crushing, returning to port with the freshest catch possible).

Anyone may visit the Fish Auction, but it is best to call ahead. For more information, call 773-0017 or 773-2256.

Satellites and Law Enforcement

On the west coast of the United States, the National Marine Fisheries Service has only one patrol vessel and one airplane to scour more than one million square miles of ocean. With such weak enforcement capabilities, poachers often sneak into off-limits fishing zones where they take forbidden salmon and kill marine mammals. One Seattle, Washington firm is trying to develop a system to track vessel movements by satellite by tracing and analyzing exhaust plumes from their engines. It will have to be able to determine whether boats are towing nets or just passing through a restricted area. Satellite surveillance may become the affordable way to monitor the fishing activities of pirate poachers.

Here on the East Coast, haddock, one of our most valuable fisheries, is now overfished. The National Marine Fisheries Service has closed areas of the ocean to haddock harvesting.

How could the West Coast system of remote sensing of fishing activity be used here? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Do management authorities have a right to engage in satellite snooping? Who do the fish "belong to"?


  • Gulf of Maine chart with economic zone border
  • distance scale and lines of latitude and longitude
  • colored pencils
  • ruler