- Crew members of two Canadian fishing vessels were approached by the United States border patrol in Canadian waters in the Gulf of ME in late June, according to the Canadian government, which is investigating the matter.
That debate has come to a head lately, starting with a June 25 Facebook post in which a Canadian fisherman alleged that U.S. Border Patrol attempted to stop a fellow fisherman "in the zone".
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. The island lies about 10 miles offshore between the Gulf of ME and the Bay of Fundy.
On Wednesday, John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada said, "Canada continues to investigate these incidents that occurred in Canadian waters, including through engaging with US agencies involved in the matter", Reuters reported.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol says 21 Canadian vessels have been stopped so far this year.
Canadian fishing boats harassed by U.S. Border Patrol, officials from Canada just reported.
A spokesperson from the Customs and Border Protection agency commented on the incidents, saying that it is a "regular exercise being conducted along the USA marine border", according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
According to Cook, the Canadian fishing captain, Nick Brown, informed the USA vessel that "he was a Canadian vessel legally fishing in Canadian waters".
"Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long-standing and has a strong foundation in global law", Babcock said in an email to CBC News.
Reports say that the agents were asking about illegal immigrants.
In a written statement, the fisherman's association said American and Canadian fishermen have jointly fished the 102-square mile area for years. But a succession of border accords from the 1783 Treaty of Peace - between the newly independent United States and Britain - up to a 1984 International Court of Justice case failed to resolve the fate of Machias Seal Island and its waters. They declined to specify how many of these were fishing vessels.
A little-known cross-border dispute that has simmered between Canada and the United States since the late 1700s is now approaching the boiling point.
Grand Manan is a Canadian island in the Gulf of ME, right off the coast that hosts the border between the United States and Canada.
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.
A representative for the association did not respond to an interview request Thursday.
The Canadian flag flutters in the breeze by the lighthouse at Machias Seal Island.
In 40 years fishing off ME, this is the first time he can remember Border Patrol operating offshore like this, Drouin said.
"What caused that? You'll have to talk to border patrol".
The decision to enforce American immigration rules in the area effectively denies the strong Canadian claim to the islands and waters. "Until the matter of the boundary is resolved, we will continue to take practical steps with the U.S.to ensure that the area is well managed". Any vessel operator that does not slow down and stop when ordered by Border Patrol agents can be criminally charged, Malin said.