United States border patrol boat strayed into Canadian waters chasing migrants: fishermen

Machias Seal Island

Machias Seal Island

"I have no clue why they're here, spending taxpayers' money and resources ..." Between Trump and Trudeau launching tariff's and new border rules, tensions have been on the rise between our two countries.

The patrols are part of recent increased enforcement actions nationwide by the USA agency, including a checkpoint last month along Interstate 95 north of Bangor.

"Our understanding is that this was part of a regular exercise being conducted along the USA marine border", it said, adding that it will work with the Canadian government "to ensure that our fishermen will be able to continue their fishery in a normal manner".

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

Visitors head to Machias Seal Island on in June 2016.

But the United States has never relinquished its claim on the island.

Stephanie Malin, a spokeswoman for CBP, says that the Border Patrol has routinely patrolled "within the water boundaries of the United States" for decades and that such enforcement operations are soundly within the agency's jurisdiction.

"The US Border Patrol does not patrol for fisheries violations or boating violations which are enforced by the US Coast Guard". The result, he claimed, is a virtual fishing free-for-all that Drouin suspects is meant to push Canadian dominance in the zone.

"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.

A statement from the association released Wednesday said the waters have been fished by both US and Canadian crews for years.

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Laurence Cook, chairman of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association wrote on Facebook that the US officials claimed they were "looking for illegal immigrants" in the vicinity of Machias Seal Island, according to the CBC report. Canadian fishermen are being "harassed", he charged.

Global Affairs Canada spokesman John Babcock said in a statement that the incidents occurred in Canadian waters, and the Canadian government is working with the American agencies involved.

But Drouin said he is among many American fishermen also stopped by the border patrol in May and June.

"A lot of people are a lot more anxious about USA power on Canadian soil or in Canadian waterways", she said. "They claim to be looking for illegal immigrants pure bulls-t to be illegal they would have to be in sovereign waters and they know it".

The CBC reported Wednesday that the encounters occurred on June 24 and 25 in a so-called "grey zone" around Machias Seal Island and North Rock between the Gulf of ME and the Bay of Fundy.

"Border disputes don't go away, they just fester and then something happens", said Stephen Kelly, now a research scholar at Duke University. 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.

Despite their governments' debate, Canadian and American fishermen typically coexist in this area relatively peacefully - with a few notable exceptions.

The Grand Manan Fishermen's Association issued a statement that used much the same language.

He said he sees it all as a way for Canada to assert its sovereignty over Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters, with the two countries' fishing fleets caught in between.

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