U.S. border officials question Canadian fishermen in disputed waters

  • U.S. border officials question Canadian fishermen in disputed waters

U.S. border officials question Canadian fishermen in disputed waters

The Grand Manan Fishermen's Association later confirmed that several such interactions occurred in June, NBC reports.

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

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.

At least 10 Canadian fishing boats operating in disputed waters off the coast of ME were intercepted in recent days by U.S. Border Patrol agents searching for illegal immigrants, according to Canadian news organizations.

The island's nationality has been disputed for roughly 200 years, as a series of treaties between the US and the United Kingdom, which ruled over Canadian lands before they gained independence in 1867, never addressed which country it belong to. Boats from both countries have fished the waters comfortably for years.

"Typical American bullies ... not surprised to see the Americans trying to push people around", Cook wrote.

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

"Our understanding is that this was part of a regular exercise being conducted along the US 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".

"They're not happy about it and they don't think [the Americans] have any business doing this", he said.

John Babcock, a Global Affairs Canada spokesman, said the government continues to investigate the incidents "in Canadian waters", partly by engaging with the American agencies involved.

"Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long-standing and has a strong foundation in worldwide law", Babcock said in an email to CBC News.

Visitors head to Machias Seal Island on Friday, June 24, 2016.

Customs and Border Protection told Business Insider in a statement that its agents have stopped and interviewed 21 Canadian vessels since last October in those waters, which the agency called "jurisdictional waters of the United States". "They're in global waters, so border patrol shouldn't be boarding Canadian vessels".

But that's not what fishermen have told Canadian officials.

A spokesperson for the fishermen told the Press that agents boarded the boats asking about the presence of undocumented immigrants.

"Canadian fishermen are being harassed by US Border Patrol".

It was not immediately clear what happened during the stops, or how they compare to previous USBP activity in the area. "It's quite disturbing when you have fishermen on the water, doing their job, providing for their families ... and they're being harassed".

The countries have signed what's known as a "shiprider agreement" to allow cross-border law-enforcement operations - but it applies only to the Coast Guard, not Border Patrol.

Reid added that Ottawa was reaching out to the U.S. authorities for more details.

He said drug smuggling is a more relevant concern. When the Trump administration recently announced tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded that tariffs marked a negative "turning point" in U.S./Canadian relations.