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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 20, 2011

SCHUMER: CANADIAN BORDER SERVICE AGENCY MUST CLEARLY COMMUNICATE EXPECTATIONS AND DUTIES OF AMERICAN FISHERMEN IN CANADIAN WATERS, REVIEW LOCAL FISHERMAN’S BOAT SEIZURE


Schumer Urges CBSA To Investigate Recent Costly Boat Seizure of NY Fishermen, Clarify Expectations to Avoid Future Incidents

Schumer, Chairman of US Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, Aims to Maintain A Safe Border That Encourages Tourism, Commerce

Schumer: CBSA Must Investigate Mr. Anderson’s Boat Seizure, Review Clarity and Implementation of Regulations

Today, Senator Charles E. Schumer called on the President of the Canada Border Services Agency to promptly review a recent incident in which Thousand Island Park resident Roy Anderson was fishing in the Gananoque Narrows when his boat was boarded and seized by the Agency. According to reports, Mr. Anderson had entered Canadian waters, and found out contrary to his understanding of Canadian law, that he was in violation of the duties and obligations of New York fishermen in Canadian waters, even though he was not anchored or otherwise on Canadian shore. The fisherman had been previously checked by both Ontario Provincial Police and Canadian game wardens, who had explained to him that, as long as he was not anchored or on Canadian shores, he was not in violation of the law. Mr. Anderson’s boat was seized and he was required to immediately pay a $1,000 fine to get his boat back. Schumer states that a two-pronged resolution is needed in this situation: Canada Border Services Agency must provide clear and readily available guidance in terms of the expectations and obligations of American fishermen, and should investigate Mr. Anderson’s treatment and costly boat seizure, given his unsuspicious and unlawful aims in the incident.

“The Canadian Border Services Agency should immediately clarify their maritime border policies for New York fisherman so that incidents like these don’t happen again.” Schumer said. “I believe that this case must prompt a review of CBSA’s policies and procedures both as to his individual case and for future similarly-situated cases. The rules need to be clear, and they need to be clearly enforced. I urge CBSA to more clearly communicate the duties and expectations of Americans fishing near the border, and to provide clear warnings in incidents with first-time offenders in those situations.”

Last week, Schumer received news of a recent incident in which Roy M. Anderson, of Thousand Island Park, was fishing at a spot in the Gananoque Narrows with a friend, when his boat was boarded and seized by Canadian Border Services Agency officers.  Officers came aboard his boat and checked his Canadian fishing license, which he always carries, and checked for outstanding criminal warrants, of which there were none.  But when Mr. Anderson was asked if he had reported his presence in Canada at a port of entry, which he had not, his boat was seized and he was required to pay a $1,000 fine to get it back.  Mr. Anderson was not aware of this requirement and was not given an opportunity to bring his actions into compliance with Canadian law. Schumer states that this incident requires a prompt review of CBSA’s policies and procedures both as to his individual case and for future similarly-situated cases. In his personal letter, Schumer acknowledges that, while he is confident Canada Border Services Agency is acting as a good faith partner with the United States in resolving shared border issues, Mr. Roy Anderson’s case requires a prompt review. Mr. Anderson’s case highlights a need for clearer and more detailed warnings to New York fishermen in regards to Canadian law when fishing near the Canadian border. Schumer notes a clear a lack of communication and understanding between American fishermen and their exact duties and obligations under Canadian law when fishing waters near the border.

Schumer notes that without clear guidance, American fishermen can be in violation of Canadian law without any knowledge or any illegal intent. Moving forward, Schumer notes that the expectations of those fishing near the Canadian border must be made clearer, including the need to report presence at ports of entry, whether boats are anchored or otherwise on shore. Schumer urges for a two-pronged resolution to this issue: he asks that CBSA work to provide warnings and clear guidance to first-time offenders who are caught fishing on the U.S.-Canada border with no suspicious or unlawful aims, and asks that the CBSA investigate its treatment of Mr. Anderson to determine whether the equities of his case should prompt CBSA to refund the fine he was required to pay.

Schumer’s letter to President of Canada Border Services Agency Luc Portelance appears below:

June 20, 2011

Luc Portelance

President

Canada Border Services Agency

191 Laurier Ave. W., 6th Floor

Ottawa, ON K1A 0L8

Dear Mr. Portelance,

As Chairman of the United States Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, I am responsible for directing U.S. Senate policy on northern border issues.  In this capacity, I am continually briefed and updated on the increased collaboration that our Customs and Border Protection officials are engaging in with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to create a safer border and a border that encourages tourism and commerce.  I very much appreciate your efforts in this regard. 

I write today to highlight a recent incident involving one of my constituents, Roy M. Anderson, a resident of Thousand Island Park, New York, which I believe should prompt a review of CBSA’s policies and procedures both as to his individual case and for future similarly-situated cases. 

According to news accounts, while fishing at a spot in the Gananoque Narrows with a friend, Mr. Anderson’s boat was boarded and seized by Canadian Border Services Agency officers.  Officers came aboard his boat and checked his Canadian fishing license, which he always carries, and checked for outstanding criminal warrants, of which there were none.  But when Mr. Anderson was asked if he had reported his presence in Canada at a port of entry, which he had not, his boat was seized and he was required to pay a $1,000 fine to get it back.  Mr. Anderson was not aware of this requirement and was not given an opportunity to bring his actions into compliance with Canadian law.

For many fishermen living in upstate New York, it is difficult to understand their exact duties and obligations under Canadian law when fishing in waters that are near the Canadian border.   Because violations of the kind that Mr. Anderson was cited for can be committed without any knowledge or any illegal intent, I respectfully ask that CBSA work to provide warnings and clear guidance to first-time offenders who are caught fishing on the U.S.-Canada border with no suspicious or unlawful aims.  In addition, I respectfully ask that the CBSA investigate its treatment of Mr. Anderson to determine whether the equities of his case should prompt CBSA to refund the fine he was required to pay.

We believe that your agency is acting as a good faith partner with the United States to resolve our shared border issues.  It is in this good faith spirit that I ask you to work with my office to resolve this issue.  If there is any assistance you need from Congress in this regard, we stand ready to help with any legislation necessary to further this objective.   We thank you for your attention to this important matter, and look forward to working with you to assist you in your mission of protecting our shared border while promoting travel, trade, and commerce.Sincerely,                                      

Charles E. Schumer

Chairman

Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Refugees  

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