GRAND MANAN, N.B. — 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 waters around Machias Seal Island.
Laurence Cook, chairman of the LFA 38 Lobster Advisory Board, says some Canadian vessels were boarded by agents who asked about possible illegal immigrants.
Cook says he’s never before seen border patrol agents in the area, where the U.S. Coast Guard typically patrols.
Machias Seal Island, which is about 19 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan Island and east of Maine, is in a disputed area known as the grey zone, where lobster fishermen from both Canada and the United States have long fished side by side.
However, both Canada and the United States claim sovereign jurisdiction over the island and the surrounding 700 square kilometres at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy.
Global Affairs Canada distributed a brief email saying it is investigating “incidents that occurred in Canadian waters.”
Spokesman John Babcock said the Canadian government is also talking with U.S. agencies.
“Canada’s sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long-standing and has a strong foundation in international law,” Babcock said.
“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. Canada and the U.S. have a long history of co-operation which ensures that fishing in this area in well-managed and safe for both countries.”
The Canadian Press