Canada investigates run-ins between US customs, fishermen

Canada investigates run-ins between US customs, fishermen

Canada's government is looking into reports US border patrol agents are stopping and searching Canadian boats off the coast of ME, looking for immigrants.

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.

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 ..."

Chair of Grand Manan Fishermen's Association, Lawrence Cook, said that over 10 fishing boats had been stopped for that reason.

That debate has come to a head lately, starting with a June 25 Facebook post in which a Canadian fisherman alleged that U.S. Border Patrol attempted to stop a fellow fisherman "in the zone".

The association declined to comment on the matter. According to the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association, "Canada's sovereignty over the area is long standing and has a strong foundation in global law", although it notes the United States disputes Canada's claim. As well, the group suggested the actions of the US agents may have been routine.

The U.S. State Department did not respond to questions about U.S. territorial claims on Machais Seal Island and the Gray Zone. "Canadian fishermen are being harassed by US border patrol".

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

He has also bolstered border security in the northern frontier with Canada, and the American Civil Liberties Union said USA police had been setting up more checkpoints on roads leading to the Canadian border to check people's citizenship.

Relations between Canada and the United States continue to deteriorate.

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USA officials told CBC News the agents were there to "enforce immigration laws and other violations of federal law".

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"There's been a bit of a misunderstanding there somewhere", Cook said Wednesday, the Star reported.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol says 21 Canadian vessels have been stopped so far this year.

"I think you've got to be very careful not to extrapolate a policy concerning the Americans have expressed about other borders and simply apply that to the Grand Manan area of the Bay of Fundy in a lobster fishery involving a small group of Canadian and American fishermen".

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

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.

"It's a pretty significant area", said Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada.

"Absolutely overkill", he said of the "disturbing" stops.

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

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