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Upon Schumers Urging, CBSA Agrees to Review Recent Costly Boat Seizure of NY Fishermen

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

Schumer: CBSAs Review of Mr. Andersons Boat Seizure Is A Step In Right Direction


Today, Senator Charles E. Schumer announced the President of the Canada Border Services Agency has agreed to 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 the 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. In a personal letter, President of CBSA Luc Portelance revealed that Mr. Anderson's case is being reviewed by the agency's Recourse Directorate, Appeals Division. The CBSA intends to resolve Mr. Anderson's case in a mutually satisfactory manner, which Schumer hopes will include a full reimbursement of the fine. Schumer states that this review is a step in the right direction, and will continue to push for fair and satisfactory results. 

"The Canada Border Services Agency's review of Mr. Anderson's case is a step in the right direction," said Schumer. "I still have concerns about fishing near the border, and look forward to working with officials on both sides of the border to ensure that the St. Lawrence remains a friendly spot for local anglers and tourists alike. I am pleased this investigation is moving forward, and am eager to prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future."

Recently, Schumer received news of an 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 called for a prompt review of CBSA's policies and procedures both as to his individual case and for future similarlysituated cases. 

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 publicly clearer, including the need to report presence at ports of entry, whether boats are anchored or otherwise on shore.

A copy of the letter from CBSA President Portelance to Senator Schumer appears below:

Dear Senator Schumer,

Thank you for your correspondence of June 20, 2011, outlining your concerns pertaining to the recent seizure and associated terms of release for a boat owned by your constituent Mr. Roy E. Anderson.

Like you, I agree that we are privileged to enjoy an excellent collaborative relationship between our respective governments, and between the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). CBP Commissioner Bersin and I speak regularly to advance efforts and address issues of mutual concern related to the Canada/United States border. Our most recent success has been the implementation of joint CBSACBP BiNational Port Operations Committees at key ports of entry, where our respective local management teams meet regularly to discuss and address local operational matters.

In terms of Canadian law, our requirements remain closely harmonized with those of the United States and I can assure you that they have not changed recently. Boat owners/operators are responsible for reporting themselves, their crew and passengers to a telephone reporting centre upon arrival at a designated site in Canada. Failure to do so may result in detention, seizure or forfeiture of the conveyance and/or monetary penalties. Our officers will apply discretion in their decision making.

Mr. Anderson's case is being reviewed by our Recourse Directorate, Appeals Division, which is responsible for conducting impartial reviews of CBSA actions. An adjudicator has already initiated contact with Mr. Anderson and based on the circumstances surrounding this case, we look forward to a mutually satisfactory resolution in the very near future.