American border patrol agents stopping and boarding Canadian vessels: spokesman


Canada's government is looking into reports US border patrol agents are stopping and searching Canadian boats off the coast of ME, looking for immigrants.

Babcock said the incidents occurred on June 24 and June 25 near Machias Seal Island. The island is located in the lower Bay of Fundy, approximately 15 kilometres west of Grand Manan Island.

The Canadian government is investigating incidents that occurred in Canadian waters, and engaging US agencies involved in the matter, said John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, in an email.

"Border Patrol does not board Canadian Vessels in the grey zone without consent or probable cause and only conduct (s) interviews as a vessel runs parallel to it, bow to stern", a spokesman said in the statement.

The fishermen's association confirmed on Facebook that "a few Grand Manan Fisherman were approached" by Border Patrol agents in June.

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.

"Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long standing and has a strong foundation in worldwide law", spokesman John Babcock said in an emailed statement.

Laurence Cook, a spokesman for a Canadian fishermen's association, told Canadian media that at least 10 vessels were intercepted in the last two weeks alone near the Manchias Seal Island, just off the coast of ME and the Canadian province of New Brunswick.

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

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"He informed them he was a Canadian vessel legally fishing in Canadian waters".

"Canadian fishermen are being harassed by US Border Patrol".

Trudeau has also been critical of the White House's hardline "zero tolerance" immigration policies and the consequent result of family separations at the border, saying that it's "not the way we do things in Canada". Both countries have claimed sovereign jurisdiction over the island and historically American and Canadian fisherman have worked in the contested waters side by side.

In a written statement, the fisherman's association said American and Canadian fishermen have jointly fished the 102-square mile area for years. The US and Canada have a long history of co-operation in the area on managing issues like fishing, though tensions have occasionally flared over the lobster-rich waters.

The Canadian flag flutters in the breeze by the lighthouse at Machias Seal Island. "It wasn't just in the gray zone".

Tiny Machias Seal Island itself is no geopolitical trophy, though it is a unique home to scores of puffins.

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. Their counterparts in Canada mostly stayed off in the distance, setting cages during the winter around the coast of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.

"I'm sure from the border patrol's perspective, that's not at all what they were doing", he said, citing the American claim on the area that dates back to the late 1700s.

The possibility of illegal immigrants entering the US from Canada via the Bay of Fundy is remote, according to a local immigration lawyer.