Fishing the Gray Zone
Downeast Maine and Canadian Fundy waters
By Sandra Dinsmore
Catches really started increasing 12 to 15 years ago, said Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association Lobster Committee Chairman Lawrence Cook, 48. He lobsters in Grand Manan waters in November and December, goes scalloping in January and February, returns to lobstering in March and continues till the end of June. Four days later, Cook fishes lobster in an area Canadians call the Gray Zone, an area of water surrounding Machias Seal Island, which lies about halfway between Grand Manan and Maine. (Machias Seal Island is uninhabited except for lighthouse keepers and visiting wildlife specialists.) You can download a PDF of the chart here.
The closest point of the Gray Zone from Grand Manan is 2.8 nautical miles [nm], according to Cook. He said the closest point of Machias Seal Island from Southern Head, the most southerly point on Grand Manan, is 9 nm. Cutler fisherman John Drouin, 50, said the closest point of the Gray Zone from Cutler is about 4 nm. Machias Seal Island is 9 nm from Cutler. Drouin said, “Due east from Machias Seal Island about 1 ½ miles is the line that the Americans claim. That line is more or less halfway between Maine and Grand Manan. Therefore, Machias Seal Island and the waters that surround it are in the Gray Zone.”