U.S. fisherman says American border patrol stopped him in disputed waters

U.S. fisherman says American border patrol stopped him in disputed waters

The Canadian government is investigating reports Canadian boats have been approached and questioned by USA border patrol agents in the gulf of ME last month.

A border patrol spokesperson said Thursday the agency has been conducting enforcement operations within American water boundaries for "decades", calling them a vital part of immigration and national security efforts.

The U.S. border agents have targeted fishing boats off Machias Seal Island, a "gray area" east of ME where Canadians and Americans fish for lobster side-by-side. 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 statement from the association released Wednesday said the waters have been fished by both USA and Canadian crews for years. In fact, he said the officers appear unfamiliar with the marine world and would nearly certainly be unable to distinguish between Canadian and US vessels.

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

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. The waters situated at almost 18 acres from island, known for lobster fishing, are the gray zone, which means both the U.S.as well as Canada think of them as sovereign territory.

The 53-year-old fisherman, who has seen a patrol boat only once or twice over the last many years, said he asked the agents what they were doing and said he was told only that they were there to "document who was in the area". Cook later said he had heard of 10 fishing boats being stopped by American agents in recent weeks.

Even so, Drouin said that a Canadian Coast Guard ship appeared in the zone in recent days, an apparent response to the US actions.

The boats were fishing in the disputed waters around Machias Seal Island, which is off the eastern coast of Maine. The agency has not disclosed how many stops have been made.

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Trudeau has also been critical of the White House's hardline "zero tolerance" immigration policies and the consequent result of family separations at the border, saying that it's "not the way we do things in Canada".

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".

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Machias Seal Island is seen on June 24, 2016.

Federal law gives Border Patrol the authority to stop, search and examine any vehicle entering the USA including those in a maritime environment, Malin said.

"If the Canadians want to use the term harass, they have been harassing us for years", Drouin said.

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

But some Canadian fishermen have described the encounters as harassment. Tension over fishing rights in the area can get heated when the price of lobster is high, leading to threats and accusations of line-cutting and other sabotage. Additionally, Malin said that Border Patrol agents would not board any vessel without permission or probable cause.

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