US border patrol questioned fishermen on Canadian waters

09 July, 2018, 07:48 | Author: Chad Warren
  • Machias Seal Island is roughly 19 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan and 16 kilometres from the coast of Maine

Canada's government is investigating reports that U.S. border patrol officers have intercepted and questioned crew members on more than 20 Canadian vessels in disputed waters off the coast of Maine.

"They claim to be looking for illegal immigrants", said Cook in his Facebook posting.

The area in question is around Machias Seal Island, an 8-hectare (20-acre) rock island at the Maine-New Brunswick border. Both countries claim the island, which is about 10 miles off ME and home to two full-time residents (both Canadian), puffins, rocks and not much else, and say they have the right to patrol its boundaries.

A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada has said it is contacting USA agencies about the encounters, but that the federal government considers its sovereignty over the area to be "long-standing" and grounded in worldwide law.

"We don't want this to be a great worldwide 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.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not responded to a CBS News request for comment.

"They're in worldwide waters, so border patrol shouldn't be boarding Canadian vessels", he said.

The Grey Zone consists of about 700 square kilometres of lucrative lobster waters surrounding Machias Seal Island, and has been claimed by both Canada and the USA for decades.

"Is this overkill? Absolutely". They declined to specify how many of these were fishing vessels. "Canada relationship." Since then, Canada has fired back with tariffs of its own on US goods from steel and iron to ketchup and dish soap.

A former American diplomat to Canada says the episodes late last month underscore the need for the two countries to settle their quarrel over the so-called "grey zone" surrounding the island before it erupts into violence.

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"That's possible, but. the Gulf of ME is not a major route for illegal immigrants sneaking into the United States", Kelly said.

"Additionally Border Patrol does not board Canadian Vessels in the Grey Zone without consent or probable cause and only conduct interviews as a vessel runs parallel to it, bow to stern", they said.

In a written statement, the fisherman's association said American and Canadian fishermen have jointly fished the 102-square mile area for years.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent looks over Lake Erie near the U.S.

The Canadian flag flutters in the breeze by the lighthouse at Machias Seal Island. But a succession of border accords from the 1783 Treaty of Peace - between the newly independent United States and Britain - up to a 1984 International Court of Justice case failed to resolve the fate of Machias Seal Island and its waters.

"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.

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 dispute has fueled tension between American and Canadian fishermen over the years, as the waters around the island are especially important lobstering grounds.

The agents were enforcing "immigration laws and other violations of federal law", she said.

Cook, in fact, said border agents have stopped at least 10 fishing boats over the past two weeks.

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