Although I have visited Canada (by car and train), I have never boated in Canada. However, having cleared boats through customs in the Bahama, Mexico and the British Virgin Islands and back into the US, the following caught my interest.
U.S. Citizen Roy Andersen, 22, set off an international dispute back on May 30 when Canadian border officials threatened to seize his boat if he did not pay a $1,000 fine on the spot. Apparently he failed to report to border officials in Canada when his fishing boat drifted into Canadian waters. U.S. officials have now announced that the fisherman will be refunded the $1,000 fine he was forced to pay.
After protests from a range of U.S. officials including Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Canada agreed last week to allow recreational boaters to check in with border officials by cell phone.
“Mr. Andersen deserves to get back every last penny, and I’m glad the Canadians agreed,” Schumer said Friday. “This is one important victory, and I’m going to keep working to make sure this type of incident doesn’t happen again.”
Until the incident with Andersen, U.S. boaters in the St. Lawrence River region assumed they did not have to check in with Canadian authorities as long as their boats were not anchored. (I’m sure we all know what “assumed” means.)
U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said he received the updated boating requirements from the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
“The Canadian government’s decision to amend their policies to allow for American boaters to report to a Canadian customs center from their cell phones is a step in the right direction,” Owens said in a statement.
But he added, “We clearly have more work to do in order to fully resolve this situation and make it easier for both Americans and Canadians to fish and recreate on the St. Lawrence River.”
Canada requires all boaters to carry a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. To qualify for yours go to BoatingBasicsOnline.com.