Canada is investigating US Border Patrol's maritime immigration checks

Machias Seal Island is roughly 19 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan and 16 kilometres from the coast of Maine

Machias Seal Island is roughly 19 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan and 16 kilometres from the coast of Maine

- 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.

Canada is contacting U.S. agencies about the encounters, said John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada.

Chris Mills, a former lightkeeper in the Canadian coast guard, said he never saw a Border Patrol boat or a USA military vessel pass by when he worked at the Machias Seal Island Lighthouse in 1991 and 1992.

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 Canadian media reports, US border officials have been questioning Canadian fishermen near the island about possible illegal immigration activities.

Mr Cook said the agents told him they were looking for illegal immigrants.

The Grey Zone consists of about 700 square kilometres of lucrative lobster waters surrounding Machias Seal Island, and has been claimed by both Canada and the US for decades.

The possibility of illegal immigrants entering the USA from Canada via the Bay of Fundy is remote, according to a local immigration lawyer.

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. And on June 30, Canada announced that there would be billions of dollars in retaliatory tariffs from Canada against the U.S.

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

But some Canadian fishermen have described the encounters as harassment.

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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.

Don't miss out on the latest news and information. "Absolutely overkill", said Doucet, whose riding includes Grand Manan Island, where the Canadian boats are based.

A June 25 Facebook post by Laurence Cook, chair of the association's lobster-fishing committee, was less diplomatic.

"U.S. Border Patrol was conducting regular patrol operations to enforce immigration laws and other violations of federal law that they may encounter in the course of their duties during the operation in June", she said in a statement.

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

"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".

US president Donald Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration isn't happening just on the US-Mexico border, but also in a large body of water shared by US and Canadian lobster harvesters, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports.

"Is this overkill? Absolutely".

The Canadian lighthouse on Machias Seal Island, which is located about 12 miles off the coast of Cutler, is seen in this undated photo.

"I don't think you can draw a line between some of the concerns Americans have expressed for other border crossings with a fishing zone that has existed in the Bay of Fundy that has existed positively and collaboratively for a long time", he said.

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