US Fishermen Peeved By Canada's User Fees

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CANADA has begun charging boats from the United States a $1,100 one-way fee to use a protected waterway off British Columbia to get to Alaska fishing grounds.

Thirteen boats paid the fee Wednesday, including two vessels intercepted by Canadian patrols on the 300-mile passage.

Skippers of the two boats apparently were unaware of the fee, which was announced a week ago in a dispute over salmon fishing, said Kelly Francis, a spokeswoman for Canada's Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans.

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Another skipper, Neil Gilbertsen, didn't know he had to pay in Canadian cash and had to wait for a wire transfer, Ms. Francis said. ``I've always liked Canada,'' the skipper from Ketchikan, Alaska, fumed. ``It's kind of interesting to be held hostage in your favorite country.''

Canada has said tougher measures may follow unless there is progress toward renewal of a US-Canadian salmon treaty, first adopted in 1985. Canada is seeking a reduction of the US catch of salmon spawned in British Columbia.

``This is what started the War of 1812 - foreign vessels boarding American vessels and searching them,'' said Milt Slater, an executive at Nautilus Seafoods, a Seattle fishing company whose boat was intercepted. EPA studies border contaminants

A PILOT study of contaminants on Texas's border with Mexico revealed exposures to pesticides, arsenic, and polychlorinated biphenyls - although almost nothing at unhealthy levels, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday. The project was designed to set the stage for a broader EPA study to begin possibly this year.

``It may not be unique for agricultural communities,'' said Hal Zenick, who directed the pilot study of nine homes in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. ``We had very few single values higher than what you would consider the health standard.''

Community concerns of industrial pollution from the Mexican side of the border and widespread pesticide use on both sides prompted the EPA to undertake the $1 million study.

Low levels of pesticides, including parathion, DDT, and heptachlor, were found from rural areas to downtown Brownsville, Texas, in samples of indoor and outdoor air, household dust, food, and drinks.

DDT and heptachlor are banned in the United States, but their residues can remain in the bloodstream for many years.

Dr. Zenick said none of the pesticide exposures were measured at levels considered to be a health hazard.

``It may be at low levels, but is it cumulative?'' asked Mike Farmer of the National Audubon Society. Zenick said the follow-up study should help answer that question.

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