U.S. Border Patrol says it won't stop checking Canadian fishing vessels

08 July, 2018, 11:12 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • Machias Seal Island is roughly 19 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan and 16 kilometres from the coast of Maine

Canada is investigating incidents of USA patrol boats straying into waters it claims as its own and approaching Canadian fishing vessels.

"He informed them he was a Canadian vessel legally fishing in Canadian waters", wrote Laurence Cook of the association on Facebook.

Laurence Cook, chairman of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association wrote on Facebook that the US officials claimed they were "looking for illegal immigrants" in the vicinity of Machias Seal Island, according to the CBC report.

The ships were intercepted while fishing around the Machias Seal Island, an area between the Gulf of ME and the Bay of Fundy that has been disputed between the two North American neighbors for centuries.

John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, said in a statement Thursday that the stops occurred in Canadian waters. The group said it's their understanding that the recent stops are part of a "regular exercise being conducted along the US marine border", and said it looked forward to continuing a "respectful and cordial relationship" with its USA counterparts.

The agency was conducting patrols to enforce immigration laws and other potential violations of federal law, the statement said, adding that among the Canadian vessels that were stopped, no immigration arrests were made. "Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long-standing and has a strong foundation in worldwide law".

It's possible that neither country sees it as a high-stakes priority, said Kelly, but orderly access to the waters is "vital" to the two fishing industries.

"It's just a small part of a huge sea change in the way Canada is interacting with the USA and vice versa, especially with the trade issue", Mills said.

Machias Seal Island is located off Cutler, Maine, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) up the coast from Portland.

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According to Cook, the Canadian fishing captain, Nick Brown, informed the U.S. vessel that "he was a Canadian vessel legally fishing in Canadian waters".

A little-known cross-border dispute that has simmered between Canada and the United States since the late 1700s is now approaching the boiling point.

The Grand Manan Fishermen's Association said it will work with the Canadian government to make sure it is able to keep fishing activities going in a normal fashion.

Cook later told the Canadian Press he's never before seen US Border Patrol in the area, and the incidents have left locals bewildered and enraged.

Trump has made cracking down on illegal immigration a cornerstone of his administration, and his now-abandoned "zero tolerance" practice of separating migrant parents from their children at the Mexican border triggered global condemnation.

The Canadian flag flutters in the breeze by the lighthouse at Machias Seal Island. "Canadian fishermen are being harassed by USA border patrol".

"Absolutely overkill", he said of the "disturbing" stops.

"If the Canadians want to use the term harass, they have been harassing us for years", Drouin said. "Until the matter of the boundary is resolved, we will continue to take practical steps with the U.S.to ensure that the area is well‎ managed".

"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.

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