US Border Agents Question Canadian Fishing Crews About Immigrants In Disputed Waters

US Border Agents Question Canadian Fishing Crews About Immigrants In Disputed Waters

US Border Agents Question Canadian Fishing Crews About Immigrants In Disputed Waters

A US border patrol boat strayed into Canadian territorial waters while chasing "illegal immigrants" off the coast of ME and Nova Scotia, Canadian fishermen said Wednesday.

Global Affairs Canada, the equivalent of the State Department in the USA, told the CBC that it has confirmed at least two incidents in which Customs and Border Patrol agents had questioned Canadian fishermen off the island.

The area is home to Machias Seal Island and represents one of the last remaining border disputes between the US and Canada, thanks to competing stipulations laid out by treaties and land grants.

After American fishermen came forward to say that their boats were also being intercepted by border patrol agents, the association said in a statement that they understood the incidents to be "part of a regular exercise being conducted along the USA marine border".

Mr Cook said the agents told him they were looking for illegal immigrants.

The association declined to comment on the matter.

"Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long standing and has a strong foundation in worldwide law", spokesman John Babcock said in an emailed statement.

He has argued that Canada and the US should submit the disagreement to arbitration at the world court.

She referred further questions to the U.S. State Department, which had no immediate response.

Federal law gives Border Patrol the authority to stop, search and examine any vehicle entering the USA including those in a maritime environment, Malin said. But both Canadian and American fishermen said they noticed increased activity in harbors and in the Atlantic in early June.

The Trump administration has enacted strict policies on illegal immigration in the United States, including a "zero tolerance policy" of criminally prosecuting anyone who crosses the border illegally.

US officials told CBC News the agents were there to "enforce immigration laws and other violations of federal law". The Grand Manan Fishermen's Association later confirmed that several such interactions occurred in June, NBC reports.

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"There's been a bit of a misunderstanding there somewhere", said Laurence Cook, the chairman of the advisory board for the lobster fishing area.

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.

A United States customs spokesperson said the operation, which is being conducted by the agency's Houlton, Maine, office, is part of a routine enforcement effort and such inspections have been made in the past.

A representative for the association did not respond to an interview request Thursday.

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

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.

The dispute has fueled tension between American and Canadian fishermen over the years, as the waters around the island are especially important lobstering grounds.

Cook, in fact, said border agents have stopped at least 10 fishing boats over the past two weeks.

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