U.S. border patrol questioned fishermen on Canadian 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

The Canadian government said Thursday it is investigating a series of encounters in which United States border patrols have approached Canadian fishing vessels in a disputed island area off the East Coast.

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.

Canadian fishermen say two vessels were approached and their crews questioned by border agents, in Canada's legal waters, late last month around Machias Seal Island and North Rock.

"Canada continues to investigate these incidents that occurred in Canadian waters, including through engaging with US agencies involved in the matter", she said.

"U.S. Border Patrol was conducting regular patrol operations to enforce immigration laws and other violations of federal law that they may encounter in the course of their duties during the operation in June", she said in a statement.

According to Canadian media reports, US border officials have been questioning Canadian fishermen near the island about possible illegal immigration activities.

She said the agency did not have statistics on how many USA vessels have been stopped in ME this year and the last five years and would not say how many vessels and personnel were involved in offshore Border Patrol operations or where precisely agents are patrolling.

Lawrence Herman, a former Canadian diplomat who now practices worldwide trade law, has been warning that a trade war between the US and Canada could have devastating consequences for both countries.

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

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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. Any vessel operator that does not slow down and stop when ordered by Border Patrol agents can be criminally charged, Malin said.

"He informed them he was a Canadian vessel legally fishing in Canadian waters. They're trying to get out of the US and into Canada to claim asylum".

Relations between Canada and the United States continue to deteriorate.

In a written statement, the fisherman's association said American and Canadian fishermen have jointly fished the 102-square mile area for years.

The contested area begins about five kilometers southwest of New Brunswick's Grand Manan and is known as the "grey zone", according to the news service. "Canadian fishermen are being harassed by U.S. Border Patrol".

Indeed, it's not for nothing the area is called the grey zone - gray zone to the Americans. But once they are in the same waters, it becomes almost impossible to determine at a glance whether the fishing boats are Canadian or American.

"I don't think you can draw a line between some of the concerns Americans have expressed for other border crossings with a fishing zone that has existed in the Bay of Fundy that has existed positively and collaboratively for a long time", he said.

As tensions rise between the United States and Canada, there is a new clash in the cool waters off the northeast tip of ME, which are rich with lobster, scallops and cod. As well, the group suggested the actions of the US agents may have been routine.

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