March 20, 2019

U.S. Border Patrol reportedly stops Canadian vessels in disputed waters

08 July 2018, 11:16 | Dale Webster

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At least 10 Canadian fishing boats have been stopped by US immigration authorities within the past two weeks, Cook said, the latest escalation in a more than 300-year disagreement between the countries in the disputed waters off Machias Seal Island.

Canadian and USA lobster fishermen have fished around Machias Seal Island - which is claimed by both nations - for decades.

The U.S. border patrol attempted to stop Grand Manan fisherman Nick Brown in the grey zone, he wrote.

In a statement, the Association believes this was part of a regular exercise conducted by officials.

Sovereign jurisdiction over the island is claimed by both Canada and the U.S. Machias Seal Island is east of ME, and about 19 kilometers away from Canada's Grand Manan Island.

The contested area begins about five kilometers southwest of New Brunswick's Grand Manan and is known as the "grey zone", according to the news service.

And last month, Canadians were astonished to learn that not only can American border agents seize their cellphones, but that the border patrol had established checkpoints throughout New England to stop foreigners.

A June 25 Facebook post by Laurence Cook, chair of the association's lobster-fishing committee, was less diplomatic.

The association said it has enjoyed a respectful and cordial relationship with its US counterparts.

Visitors head to Machias Seal Island on in June 2016. He was stopped two weeks ago in Cutler Harbor and asked for his identification, and his son has been stopped and boarded about six miles offshore, Drouin said.

"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 US authorities for more details on the incident.

The agency was conducting patrols to enforce immigration laws and other potential violations of federal law, the statement said, adding that among the Canadian vessels that were stopped, no immigration arrests were made. The waters around the 18-acre island, known for their lobster fishing, are a gray zone, meaning both the US and Canada consider them sovereign territory. The agency has not disclosed how many stops have been made.

American patrol boats would view the area as sovereign USA waters where "they could stop any boats that gave them concern", said Kelly, once the deputy head of mission at his country's embassy in Ottawa.

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

John Drouin of Cutler, Maine, said Friday that he was out about two weeks ago when us patrol agents came alongside his boat in the so-called Grey Zone to him to ask where he was from and to see his paperwork. The dispute is over the ocean encircling it and the lobster lurking beneath the waves.

"Obviously, we are concerned when Canadian fishers are intercepted by American authorities when they are practising fishing activity that has existed positively and co-operatively with the Americans for a very long time", Dominic LeBlanc, the minister of fisheries and oceans, said Thursday morning. 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.

According to Cohen, those seeking to cross the Canada-U.S. border illegally are usually pushing north.

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