U.S. Border Patrol says it won't stop checking Canadian fishing vessels

U.S. Border Patrol says it won't stop checking Canadian fishing vessels

"Our understanding is that this was part of a regular exercise being conducted along the US marine border", it said, adding that it will work with the Canadian government "to ensure that our fishermen will be able to continue their fishery in a normal manner". Machias Seal Island, a small low-lying island with a lighthouse manned and maintained by the Canadian government, lies about 12 miles southwest of the Canadian island of Grand Manan and 12 miles southeast of the ME village of Cutler. ". Border Patrol does not board Canadian Vessels in the Grey Zone without consent or probable cause and only conduct interviews as a vessel runs parallel to it, bow to stern".

The federal agency did not confirm how many vessels this had happened to. No arrests were made.

Ties between Canada and the United States have been strained since Trump slapped tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium, citing USA national security.

Cook said he's never before seen border patrol agents in the area, where the U.S. Coast Guard typically patrols.

Rick Doucet, New Brunswick's fisheries minister, told the National Post Wednesday that fishermen have informed him of "heavily armed" border patrol agents clambering onto lobster boats, saying they were looking for illegal immigrants. "As far as I'm concerned, it needs to stop immediately", Doucet told the Post. The US and Canada have a long history of co-operation in the area on managing issues like fishing, though tensions have occasionally flared over the lobster-rich waters.

Border agents are operating in a rich lobster fishing area known as the Gray Zone that is claimed by both USA and Canadian governments.

Canada operates a lighthouse on the island year-round.

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In an e-mail to NBC News, Amy Mills-a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada-said that it is investigating the matter.

"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.

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

John Drouin said his and his two sons' boats and those of other American fishermen have all been stopped in the past couple of months by U.S. Border Patrol vessels, something he's rarely seen in 40 years plying the waters. "Canadian fishermen are being harassed by U.S. Border Patrol".

His revelations called into question complaints from Canadians that they are being targeted by American law enforcement in a marine "grey zone" that both countries claim as sovereign territory.

According to the local fisherman's association, both American and Canadian fleets have fished the 277-square-mile overlap "for years" - even if the relationship between individual lobstermen is said to be "strained".

"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. She said the agency did not have statistics on how many US 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. However, Canadian officials are not happy.

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