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

06 July 2018

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

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".

Spokesman John Babcock said the Canadian government is also talking with USA agencies, though he did not provide details about the fishermen's allegations or Ottawa's response.

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

Cook told the National Post in an interview Wednesday that at least 10 Canadian fishing boats have been intercepted by the U.S. Border Patrol in the disputed area in the past two weeks and that some of them have even been boarded by agents looking for undocumented immigrants.

Unlike Canada, the United States does not help maintain the island but still believes that it is their property. Boats from both countries have fished the waters comfortably for years.

A program manager with the association told CBC that everyone is being stopped, "It's not exclusive to Canadians".

"Typical American bullies", he wrote.

The agents were enforcing "immigration laws and other violations of federal law", she said.

Global Affairs Canada, the equivalent of the State Department in the US, told the CBC that it has confirmed at least two incidents in which Customs and Border Patrol agents had questioned Canadian fishermen off the island.

"They're not happy about it and they don't think [the Americans] have any business doing this", he said.

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

"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. Machias Seal Island lies between a grey area in the Canadian and American border which the U.S. has recently begun monitoring more closely.

"Additionally 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", they said. "They're trying to get out of the US and into Canada to claim asylum".

It was not immediately clear what happened during the stops, or how they compare to previous USBP activity in the area.

Emily Gilbert, a University of Toronto professor who researches the US-Canada border, told Business Insider that it's common for the both the US Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to patrol those waterways.

It is the only contested territory between the two countries on the East Coast.

Those types of agreements were brokered long before President Donald Trump took office, but Gilbert said that due to his administration's aggressive border-security policies (not to mention the ongoing trade war between Canada and the US), Canadians are beginning to regret giving the US so much authority.

The US border patrol has been accused of "bullying" Canadian fishing vessels in the seas near ME amid tensions between the countries over US President Donald Trump's trade tariffs.

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