Border patrol stops Canadian fishermen in disputed waters off Maine

09 July, 2018, 07:46 | Author: Sidney Guerrero
  • A spokesman for New Brunswick fishermen based on Grand Manan Island says at least 10 Canadian fishing boats have been intercepted by U.S. Border Patrol agents since last week while fishing in the disputed wate

In a June 24 incident, a United States border patrol that had been launched from ME "attempted to stop" a Canadian fishing vessel in Canadian waters, Laurence Cook, chairman of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association, said on Facebook.

A statement from the association released Wednesday said the waters have been fished by both USA and Canadian crews for years.

Chris Mills, a former lightkeeper in the Canadian coast guard, said he never saw a Border Patrol boat or a US military vessel pass by when he worked at the Machias Seal Island Lighthouse in 1991 and 1992.

On July 4th, the Grand Manan Fisherman's Association released a statement about the issue on social media, saying that the waters are Canadian and that the organization is working with the government to make sure the fishermen can continue business as normal.

Border agents are operating in a rich lobster fishing area known as the Gray Zone that is claimed by both USA and Canadian governments.

"Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long-standing and has a strong foundation in worldwide law", Babcock said in an email to CBC News.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent looks over Lake Erie near the U.S. "Canadian fishermen are being harassed by USA border patrol".

The stops have been inconvenient, but he doesn't feel harassed, Drouin added.

The decision to enforce American immigration rules in the area effectively denies the strong Canadian claim to the islands and waters.

Statistics show more migrants are heading out of the United States for Canada rather than the other way around, however.

Border Patrol agents in northern New England apparently aren't just ramping up their immigration enforcement on land.

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A June 25 Facebook post by Laurence Cook, chair of the association's lobster-fishing committee, was less diplomatic.

Grand Manan is a Canadian island in the Gulf of ME, right near the border between the United States and Canada.

Canada's foreign affairs department said that it had heard about two stops in late June involving Border Patrol officers and had asked the USA government for an explanation.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

The alleged incident happened on 24 June near Machias Seal Island.

"Until the matter of the boundary is resolved, we will continue to take practical steps with the USA to ensure that the area is well managed", Babcock said.

Lawrence Herman, a former Canadian diplomat who now practices global trade law, has been warning that a trade war between the USA and Canada could have devastating consequences for both countries.

Tensions between Canada and the USA are now high over trade issues related to American tariffs on steel and aluminium and retaliatory Canadian levies; disputes over dairy, lumber, and wine; and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Is this overkill? Absolutely".

"I don't think you can draw a line between some of the concerns Americans have expressed for other border crossings with a fishing zone that has existed in the Bay of Fundy that has existed positively and collaboratively for a long time", he said. So far, 21 Canadian vessels have been interviewed by local agents in the 2018 fiscal year, she said, with zero immigration arrests made.


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