US Border Patrol reportedly stops Canadian fishing boats in disputed waters

US Border Patrol reportedly stops Canadian fishing boats in disputed waters

US Border Patrol reportedly stops Canadian fishing boats in disputed waters

An American fishermen plying disputed lobster grounds off the East Coast says he too has been stopped and questioned by U.S. Border patrol agents, much like his Canadian counterparts who complained they were being targeted in the same area near Machias Seal Island.

Cook said the USA patrol's claim to be looking for illegal immigrants was "bulls-t".

The area is home to Machias Seal Island and represents one of the last remaining border disputes between the USA and Canada, thanks to competing stipulations laid out by treaties and land grants. The island lies about 10 miles offshore between the Gulf of ME and the Bay of Fundy.

John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, said in a statement Thursday that the stops occurred in Canadian waters.

The organisation said they were told that USA border agents approached Canadian fishing vessels as part "of a regular exercise being conducted along the U.S. marine border".

Laurence Cook, chairman of the advisory board for Lobster Fishing Area 38, said Wednesday that some Canadian vessels were boarded by American agents who asked about possible illegal immigrants.

US president Donald Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration isn't happening just on the US-Mexico border, but also in a large body of water shared by US and Canadian lobster harvesters, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

"Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long-standing and has a strong foundation in worldwide law", Global Affairs spokeswoman Elizabeth Reid told the CBC in an email.

"Is this overkill? Absolutely". "Canadian fishermen are being harassed by US border patrol".

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. But once they are in the same waters, it becomes almost impossible to determine at a glance whether the fishing boats are Canadian or American.

The island is located between the Canadian province of New Brunswick and the USA state of Maine. Last Sunday and Monday, after the first reports surfaced about the Border Patrol operations, a roughly 100-foot-long Canadian coast guard vessel appeared in the disputed gray zone and began patrolling the area.

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

But some Canadian fishermen have described the encounters as harassment.

Machias Seal Island lies between a grey area in the Canadian and American border which the United States of America has recently begun monitoring more closely.

"Until the matter of the boundary is resolved, we will continue to take practical steps with the ensure that the area is well-managed".

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

Unlike Canada, the United States does not help maintain the island but still believes that it is their property.

Tensions between Canada and the USA are now high over trade issues related to American tariffs on steel and aluminium and retaliatory Canadian levies; disputes over dairy, lumber, and wine; and the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Tension over fishing rights in the area can get heated when the price of lobster is high, leading to threats and accusations of line-cutting and other sabotage.

Related news