Trump's crackdown on immigration threatens Canadian lobster harvesters


USA border officials have not been deliberately "harassing" Canadian fishing boats in disputed Atlantic waters - agents have boarded numerous American vessels, too, as part of an unprecedented recent operation, says a prominent ME lobsterman.

While entering out water may not seem like a big deal, the USA agents approached the island and verified that Canadian fisherman to see if immigrants were entering the United States of America illegally.

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.

The waters that surround the island, at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, in the Gulf of ME are also disputed.

Global Affairs Canada told reporters it is investigating "incidents that occurred in Canadian waters".

In a statement, the Association believes this was part of a regular exercise conducted by officials.

On July 4th, the Grand Manan Fisherman's Association released a statement about the issue on social media, saying that the waters are Canadian and that the organization is working with the government to make sure the fishermen can continue business as normal.

Lawrence Herman, a former Canadian diplomat who now practices global trade law, has been warning that a trade war between the USA and Canada could have devastating consequences for both countries.

The boats were stopped while fishing near Machias Seal Island, an area where both the United States and Canada claim jurisdiction.

The agents claimed to be looking for undocumented immigrants, he said.

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"Obviously, we are concerned when Canadian fishers are intercepted by American authorities when they are practicing fishing activity that has existed positively and co-operatively with the Americans for a very long time", he reportedly said.

Ties between Canada and the United States have been strained since President Donald Trump slapped tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, citing us national security, with Trump calling Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "very dishonest" and "weak" after a spat at the G7 meeting in Quebec last month.

The island is located between the Canadian province of New Brunswick and the U.S. state of Maine.

Statistics show more migrants are heading out of the United States for Canada rather than the other way around, however.

A long determined neutral zone between Canadian and American fishermen has become the latest display of the rising tensions between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

For more than a decade, American and Canadian fishermen largely have had a friendly but competitive relationship in an oval-shaped region of the Bay of Fundy known as the gray zone.

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

The suggestion that the border agents were looking for illegal immigrants seems improbable, he said. "Absolutely overkill", said Doucet, whose riding includes Grand Manan Island, where the Canadian boats are based.

The Canadian lighthouse on Machias Seal Island, which is located about 12 miles off the coast of Cutler, is seen in this undated photo. "Until the matter of the boundary is resolved, we will continue to take practical steps with the ensure that the area is well managed".

Drouin, a member of Maine's lobster advisory council, said he witnessed three other vessels that were also stopped and questioned, and has seen several Border Patrol vessels in the area over the last month.