U.S. Border Patrol reportedly stops Canadian vessels in disputed waters

US Border Patrol Agents Have Been Illegally Invading Canadian Waters featured image

US Border Patrol Agents Have Been Illegally Invading Canadian Waters featured image

The agency's authority extends to the borders of the USA, including the area around Machias Seal Island claimed by the US and Canada, she added.

In a Facebook post, Laurence Cook-a member of Grand Manan Fishermen's Association-alleged that in a June 24 boat check, U.S. Border Patrol agents said they were "looking for illegal immigrants".

The island is located between the Canadian province of New Brunswick and the U.S. state of Maine.

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

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".

As Canada's presence increased in the area, Drouin said, so did Canadian fishing patrol boats, watching Americans operate their lobster traps.

On July 4th, the Grand Manan Fisherman's Association released a statement about the issue on social media, saying that the waters are Canadian and that the organization is working with the government to make sure the fishermen can continue business as normal. The Canadian Coast Guard maintains a manned lighthouse on the island but American and Canadian fishermen prowl the rich lobster areas nearby.

Roughly 700 square kilometers of water surrounding the island is known as the grey zone. The island itself is of little value; however, the surrounding waters are home to an increasingly valuable lobster catch.

"Neither country accepts that there is a Grey Zone", said Stephen Kelly, a research scholar at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and a former American diplomat who served in Canada.

Kelly said both countries have done very little to assert their claims. "But in this case, just because it looks like it's not broken can be very deceiving - especially with our new president in the United States".

The suggestion that the border agents were looking for illegal immigrants seems improbable, he said.

"There is no threat, there's no indication of any movement of humanity from New Brunswick or Nova Scotia through the Bay of Fundy to the United States", said Lee Cohen, an immigration and refugee lawyer who has practised in Halifax for more than 30 years.

He speculated that the agency might have obtained intelligence on people being moved through the area or on other federal crimes such as drug smuggling.

The possibility of illegal immigrants entering the US from Canada via the Bay of Fundy is remote, according to a local immigration lawyer.

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 U.S. border patrol attempted to stop Grand Manan fisherman Nick Brown in the grey zone, he wrote.

Cook was indignant over the search, posting "typical American bullies". Today, after the situation made headlines, the infamously tough American agency made clear that they plan to continue to carry out such intrusions. The association's chair wrote on Facebook the US agents claimed to be "looking for illegal immigrants". He said he had no idea why American authorities are suddenly flexing their muscles.

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

US Customs and Border Protection and the US embassy in Ottawa were not available for comment because of the Independence Day holiday in the US.

"Canada continues to investigate these incidents that occurred in Canadian waters, including through engaging with USA agencies involved in the matter", she said. The Border Patrol described the encounters in the Atlantic as "regular patrol operations to enforce immigration laws". 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. "Canada and the USA have a long history of co-operation which ensures that fishing in this area in well-managed and safe for both countries". "Canada and the USA have a long history of co-operation which ensures that fishing in this area is well-managed and safe for both countries".

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