Border Patrol agents reportedly stop Canadians in disputed waters

A spokesman for New Brunswick fishermen based on Grand Manan Island says at least 10 Canadian fishing boats have been intercepted by U.S. Border Patrol agents since last week while fishing in the disputed wate

In a June 24 incident, a U.S. border patrol that had been launched from ME "attempted to stop" a Canadian fishing vessel in Canadian waters, Laurence Cook, chairman of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association, said on Facebook.

Rick Doucet, the fisheries minister for the Canadian province of New Brunswick, told The National Post that fishermen have spoken of "heavily armed" Border Patrol agents climbing into Canadian lobster boats and searching for "illegal immigrants".

The incidents were thought to have occurred in the Gulf of ME on June 24 and 25 in the disputed waters around Machias Seal Island and North Rock, according to Global Affairs Canada, the report said. 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.

A spokesman for Global Affairs Canada has said it is contacting US agencies about the encounters, but that the federal government considers its sovereignty over the area to be "long-standing" and grounded in worldwide law.

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.

The CBC News reported the us officials questioned the fishermen, who are members of the Grand Manan Fishermen's Association.

Late on Wednesday - the American Independence Day holiday - a spokesman for United States border patrol said its agents were carrying out regular operations to "enforce immigration laws and other violations of federal law".

According to Cook, the Canadian fishing captain, Nick Brown, informed the US vessel that "he was a Canadian vessel legally fishing in Canadian waters".

"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.

Reports say that the agents were asking about illegal immigrants.

There's no telling just how American policing of the waters in the Gulf of ME will affect the Canadian fishing industry there.

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

Machias Seal Island, a 20-acre island home to a Canadian lighthouse, no permanent human residents, and lots of puffins, has been claimed by both countries since the early 19th century. It's not known how many of those were fishing vessels.

The report indicated that CBP officials released a statement late Wednesday, saying that border agents had been in the vicinity of the island to "enforce immigration laws and other violations of federal law".

"What caused that? You'll have to talk to border patrol". As a result, the area has long hosted lobster fisherman from both sides of the border.

The Grand Manan Fishermen's Association said it will work with the Canadian government to make sure it is able to keep fishing activities going in a normal fashion.

A representative for the association did not respond to an interview request Thursday. It said no arrests have been made.

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

The area in question is just off Machias Seal Island.

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

"I'm sure from the border patrol's perspective, that's not at all what they were doing", he said, citing the American claim on the area that dates back to the late 1700s.

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