11. Brazil intercepted the French destroyer before it reached the lobster boats
As Tartu approached the French lobster fleet, it encountered a Brazilian cruiser, dispatched by the government to ensure the territorial sanctity of their waters. It also encountered flyovers by Brazilian Air Force B-17 bombers, acquired by Brazil after World War II. Tartu’s captain decided discretion to be the better part of valor and maintained a respectful distance. The next step in the unfolding crisis was Brazil’s President, Joao Goulart, order to the French boats to withdraw from Brazilian waters within 48 hours. The lobstermen stubbornly refused to comply, confident that Tartu’s presence offered them protection from any high-handed actions by the Brazilians. They misjudged. After the 48-hour period expired, Brazilian ships seized the lobster boat Cassiopee on January 2, 1962.
To prevent outright war, American diplomats pushed Brazil to negotiate a settlement or allow it to enter arbitration. British diplomats did the same with France. In 1962 France offered to accept arbitration if Brazil agreed. Brazil did not. Resentful of United States influence in South America, which Brazil saw as its own role, it instead took the issue to the International Court at the Hague. Eventually, the Lobster War ended when Brazil extended its territorial waters to the 200-mile limit, enclosing the areas of the lobster dispute. In the agreement they allowed French boats to trap spiny lobsters over the disputed area for a period of several years, though the number of boats was limited by the agreement. The dispute over whether the lobsters were fish that swim or crustaceans that crawl continued, though the threat of war over the argument came to an end.