Friday, 21 September, 2018

Canada investigating after USA border agents approach fishermen

Canada investigating after USA border agents approach fishermen Canada investigating after USA border agents approach fishermen
Theresa Hayes | 08 July, 2018, 11:15

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents have been questioning Canadian fishermen in disputed territorial waters around Machias Island about possible illegal immigration, according to Canadian media reports.

While entering out water may not seem like a big deal, the USA agents approached the island and verified that Canadian fisherman to see if immigrants were entering the United States of America illegally.

Laurence Cook of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association said in a personal posting on Facebook that, in a June 24 boat check off the Machias Seal Island "grey zone" in late June, Border Patrol agents claimed "to be looking for illegal immigrants ..."

The waters that surround the island, at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, in the Gulf of ME are also disputed.

Global Affairs Canada, the equivalent of the State Department in the US, told the CBC that it has confirmed at least two incidents in which Customs and Border Patrol agents had questioned Canadian fishermen off the island. USA law allows such immigration enforcement actions to be conducted anywhere within 100 miles of the border.

Laurence Cook, chair of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association, said on Facebook that a USA border patrol launch out of ME attempted to stop a Canadian fishing vessel in Canadian waters.

On Wednesday, New Brunswick Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet told the National Post that he has heard multiple reports of armed U.S. Border Patrol agents boarding lobster boats to look for immigrants. According to the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association, "Canada's sovereignty over the area is long standing and has a strong foundation in worldwide law", although it notes the United States disputes Canada's claim.

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

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

Ties between Canada and the United States have been strained since President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, citing us national security, with Trump calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "very dishonest" and "weak" after a spat at the G7 meeting in Quebec last month.

The boats were fishing in the disputed waters around Machias Seal Island, which is off the eastern coast of Maine.

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.

The Trump administration has enacted strict policies on illegal immigration in the United States, including a "zero tolerance policy" of criminally prosecuting anyone who crosses the border illegally. "Canadian fishermen are being harassed by U.S. Border Patrol".

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

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

"Canadian fishermen are being harassed by US Border Patrol". "It will have to be handled carefully by Canada and the States because it will just add fuel to the fire".

Drouin said his two sons were also recently stopped when they were fishing in the contentious area around Machias Seal Island, which is about 19 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan Island and east of Maine.

"If the Canadians want to use the term harass, they have been harassing us for years", Drouin said.

"What caused that? You'll have to talk to border patrol".