Published: Mon, July 09, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

The U.S. Refuses To Stop Invading Canadian Waters

The U.S. Refuses To Stop Invading Canadian Waters

- 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.

Concerns about illegal immigration at the border between the U.S. and Mexico should not be applied to the Canada-U.S. border, he added. 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.

John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, said in a statement Thursday that the stops occurred in Canadian waters. "Our understanding is that this was part of a regular exercise being conducted along the US marine border".

Laurence Cook, the chair of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association, said earlier the agents claimed they were "looking for illegal immigrants".

In a statement to the Guardian, US Customs and Border Protection confirmed that agents had "interviewed" 21 Canadian vessels so far this year.

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On its website, CPB describes its Air and Marine Operations as conducting its mission "at and beyond the border", though the waters in which which these Canadian vessels are stopped have been contested for decades.

The Canadian Foreign Ministry said it had launched an inquiry into the incident off Machias Seal Island, which Canada insists is its territory.

"I think you've got to be very careful not to extrapolate a policy concerning the Americans have expressed about other borders and simply apply that to the Grand Manan area of the Bay of Fundy in a lobster fishery involving a small group of Canadian and American fishermen".

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

The federal agency did not confirm how many vessels this had happened to.

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Federal law gives Border Patrol the authority to stop, search and examine any vehicle entering the USA including those in a maritime environment, Malin said.

While the bulk of the Border Patrol's operations focus on the United States' southern border, the agency maintains a modest presence near the northern border with Canada.

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

Visitors head to Machias Seal Island on Friday, June 24, 2016. Lobstermen from both countries fish the approximately 700 kilometers surrounding the island, referred to as a gray-zone. 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.

Twenty-one Canadian vessels and an unknown number of American boats have been questioned by Border Patrol since October 2017 with no immigration arrests, according to Stephanie Malin, a Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman. 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.

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The possibility of illegal immigrants entering the US from Canada via the Bay of Fundy is remote, according to a local immigration lawyer. Resolving the dispute doesn't necessarily mean ceding the waters and island to one nation or the other, said Kelly.

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