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Border Patrol Questions Canadian Fishing Fleet

06 July 2018

-Canada border on June 3, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.

A spokesperson from the Customs and Border Protection agency commented on the incidents, saying that it is a "regular exercise being conducted along the US marine border", according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

He also said that Canadian government aircraft have rattled ME fishermen in the past by "buzzing" their boats and taking photographs.

The Canadian Government is now investigating two separate occasions where USA agents entered Canadian waters off the coast of New Brunswick around the island and North Rock.

A program manager with the association told CBC that everyone is being stopped, "It's not exclusive to Canadians". Since, of course, it's impossible to draw a line in the water, the area is claimed by both countries. Boats from both countries have fished the waters comfortably for years.

Laurence Cook, a chairman for local Canadian fisherman's organization Lobster Fishing Area 38, wrote in a Facebook post on June 25 that the agency's actions were those of "typical American bullies". Reports say that the agents were asking about illegal immigrants.

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Canada is investigating incidents of United States patrol boats straying into waters it claims as its own and approaching Canadian fishing vessels. "To be illegal they would have to be in sovereign waters and they know it", he said, adding an expletive.

The Canadian government is investigating incidents that occurred in Canadian waters, and engaging USA agencies involved in the matter, said John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada, in an email.

"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.

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. It's not known how many of those were fishing vessels.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees the USBP, said agents from Houlton, Maine, have "interviewed" 21 vessels as part of routine enforcement efforts. However, Canadian officials are not happy.

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.

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"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 small island is a flat, treeless piece of rock, which includes a large colony of puffins and a lighthouse that is manned by two Canadian lightkeepers year-round.

The searches are part of President Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy on unlawful immigration, which has been focused primarily on the U.S. -Mexico border but applies equally to the north border.

"We are very committed to the idea that law enforcement should not be stopping and questioning people unless they have a good reason to", Heiden said.

Tensions between Canada and the U.S. 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.

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Border Patrol Questions Canadian Fishing Fleet