US State Department weighs in on Canada border dispute over US boater

Wed Jun 22 2011, 12:12 PM

After Canadian authorities seized a New York fisherman’s boat along the border, US government officials have asked for clarification of rules for boats crossing the international boundary

The seizure of a boat owned by a US citizen fishing in Canadian waters has caused a minor firestorm along boundary waters in the Thousand Islands region between the two countries. A US Congressman has written to the Canadian ambassador in protest, while the US State Department has also weighed in on the subject.

Roy M Anderson was arrested last month, and his boat was seized by Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officials, for not reporting to Canadian customs authorities. He was fined US$1,000 on the spot in order to keep his boat.

The arrest seems to be a departure from the accepted practice of allowing US fishermen to fish the Canadian side of the waters if they do not anchor their boats. Anderson possessed a legitimate Canadian fishing license.

After the incident, US Congressman William L. Owens wrote a letter to the Canadian ambassador to the US, challenging the CBSA's interpretation of the law. New York officials also asked the CBSA to refund Anderson’s fine.

The US State Department said yesterday that the CBSA had the law on their side, and that all foreign boaters must report to authorities whether they are anchored or not. The only exception are boaters who are traveling nonstop through Canadian waters from one point in the US to another.

It remains to be seen whether the policy will be routinely enforced. If so, many Americans along the border area could face hefty fines.