Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Sci-tech | By Laverne Osborne

Border patrol stops Canadian fishermen in disputed waters off Maine

Border patrol stops Canadian fishermen in disputed waters off Maine

- Crew members of two Canadian fishing vessels were approached by the United States border patrol in Canadian waters in the Gulf of ME in late June, according to the Canadian government, which is investigating the matter.

Mr Cook said the agents told him they were looking for illegal immigrants.

Fishermen from nearby Grand Manan Island recently said they were approached and questioned by USBP vessels near Machias Seal Island.

"Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long-standing and has a strong foundation in worldwide law", said Global Affairs spokeswoman Elizabeth Reid, adding that Ottawa was reaching out to the USA authorities for more details on the incident.

The organisation said they were told that United States border agents approached Canadian fishing vessels as part "of a regular exercise being conducted along the United States marine border".

"We don't want this to be a great global incident, but it's kind of curious", said Laurence Cook, the chairman of the lobster committee at the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association in New Brunswick.

A spokesman for New Brunswick fishermen, Laurence Cook, chairman of a local lobster advisory, told The Canadian Press he's never seen border patrol agents in the area, though the U.S. Coast Guard operates there routinely.

The island's nationality has been disputed for roughly 200 years, as a series of treaties between the USA and the United Kingdom, which ruled over Canadian lands before they gained independence in 1867, never addressed which country it belong to.

"Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long-standing and has a strong foundation in worldwide law", Global Affairs spokeswoman Elizabeth Reid told the CBC in an email.

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

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Kristan Porter, another Cutler lobsterman and president of the Maine Lobstermen's Association, said he hasn't been stopped by Border Patrol yet, but most of the 25 or 30 lobstermen in town have. "Canada relationship." Since then, Canada has fired back with tariffs of its own on USA goods from steel and iron to ketchup and dish soap.

Only about 100,000 of the United States' 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants were from Canada, according to the Pew Research Center in 2014.

As Canada's presence increased in the area, Drouin said, so did Canadian fishing patrol boats, watching Americans operate their lobster traps.

Drouin said the area has been "inundated" with Canadian lobster fishermen since 2002.

There's no telling just how American policing of the waters in the Gulf of ME will affect the Canadian fishing industry there.

"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".

The possibility of illegal immigrants entering the USA from Canada via the Bay of Fundy is remote, according to a local immigration lawyer. It said no arrests have been made.

Machias Seal Island, a 20-acre island home to a Canadian lighthouse, no permanent human residents, and lots of puffins, has been claimed by both countries since the early 19th century. In 2007, according to the National Post, an American fisherman had his thumb torn off when his equipment became tangled during a dispute with a Canadian competitor.

"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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