Fee for salmon fishers spawns dispute

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IN imposing a hefty toll on United States fishermen who pass through Canadian waters separating the US and Alaska, the Canadian government has taken a provocative stand that could sour what traditionally have been friendly relations between the US and Canada.

If not outright illegal under international law, the toll certainly violates the spirit of the US-Canada free-trade agreement.

The Canadians, angry because they say US fishermen off southeast Alaska are catching too many salmon returning to Canadian river spawning grounds, plan to impose a fee of about $2,200 per round trip on American fishermen plying the Inside Passage to Alaska between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland. It raises a prospect of ugly confrontations....

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Nothing is to be gained ... from escalation of the issue into wider economic warfare. Everything is to be gained by getting reasonable people from both sides of the border to sit down together to craft a reasonable solution to the fishing dispute.

That won't happen unless the White House and State Department step in.

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