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Fierce competition led to NW salmon industry decline, says Linfield prof in a new book

The arbitrary U.S.-Canadian political border contributed to international tensions and led to a fierce competition that almost decimated the salmon industry, says history Professor Lissa Wadewitz in a new book.

The Nature of Borders: Salmon, Boundaries, and Bandits on the Salish Sea documents how fishing practices in the late 19th and early 20th centuries turned the boundary waters into a lawless Wild West.

In the competition for salmon, Wadewitz says pirates smuggled fish across the border and international mistrust mounted as Americans arrested Canadians, Canadians seized American boats, and violence erupted among fishermen. Fierce infighting over resources meant that overfishing and wastefulness went unchecked.

The arbitrary border contributed to transnational competition that resulted in the decline of the beleaguered salmon and a sharp drop-off in the economic value of the industry.

Numerous news outlets carried news about Wadewitz’s book. The Nature of Borders was co-published by the University of Washington Press and the University of British Columbia Press in Vancouver, Canada. Wadewitz teaches history and environmental studies at Linfield College. VIDEO

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