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Old 04-09-2016, 11:58   #1
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New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

Hi all.
Just 'discovered' (with the help of a Canadian border patrol officer) that all pleasure-craft entering Canadian waters must report in to the CBSA EVEN IF YOU ARE TRANSITING AND HAVE NO INTENTION OF TOUCHING GROUND. This means that all the standard rules for entering the country apply. On the west coast just south of Vancouver it's very easy to enter American waters then back into Canadian waters without even knowing you have done so. CBSA now demands that boaters follow all the procedures as if you were actually visiting a Canadian port or even anchoring. You would then of course have to 'report in' to the US side when you go back into US waters.
I actually didn't believe the very helpful and polite officer, but when I checked the CBSA web page, the rule is right there. He did tell us that the CBSA is only issuing warnings for not reporting at this time, but that will change
I'm very surprised this is allowed under international law. Isn't there some law allowing free transit of a country's waterways without the requirement to 'check-in' to the country?
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Old 28-10-2016, 10:13   #2
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

I thought that too. In Lake Ontario you can cross back and forth without landing and it's not an issue.
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Old 28-10-2016, 10:35   #3
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

Can you provide the CBSA link? I think this would be a breach of international maritime law, not to mention cause mayhem.

I’m a Great Lakes sailor, and routinely cross the watery border without clearing in each time. It would be crazy here since the shipping lanes cross back and forth.
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Old 28-10-2016, 10:44   #4
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

Might be this page: Travellers - Reporting requirements for private boaters - there was another recent discussion around this rule.

It certainly reads like "entering" Cdn waters is what counts, whether you anchor or not. I wonder if it's just a badly worded web page or if they really intend to enforce this. It's in contradiction to my (uninformed) understanding of the law.
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Old 28-10-2016, 10:51   #5
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

I don't think it is a breach of customary IL. It's Canadian territorial waters, not EEZ.

Unless you're in a strategic chokepoint that's subject to treaty obligations, within territorial waters, governments can require immigration custom check-in, even boarding/quarantine narcotics inspections.
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Old 28-10-2016, 11:12   #6
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

Like I say, if strictly enforced, this would cause mayhem on the Great Lakes. The marked lanes cross back and forth. The border runs the centre of the small rivers. Even traversing big lakes like Superior or Huron has the obvious rhumb lines crossing back and forth.

If I read this website correctly, I should/would have called in dozens of times over the span of just a few hours while running down the St. Clair and Detroit rivers. And what happens to those of us who don’t have cell phones (yes, there are still a few of us out there). Are we supposed to go to a Telephone Reporting Site-Marine everytime?

This is crazy
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Old 28-10-2016, 12:08   #7
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

Travellers - Reporting requirements for private boaters

In direct contravention of Article 24.1.a of the UNCLOS treaty, which Canada ratified in 2003.
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Old 28-10-2016, 12:40   #8
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

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Travellers - Reporting requirements for private boaters

In direct contravention of Article 24.1.a of the UNCLOS treaty, which Canada ratified in 2003.

Not a lawyer but can't cite one article and ignore the rest of the convention as Art 24.1 actually specifically provides "except in accordance with this convention."

Art. 21 permits Canada to set reporting requirements. Also the United States is not a party to the convention, so I'm led to believe vis a vis US flag vessels, customary IL and existing treaties between US and Canada controls.
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Old 28-10-2016, 13:19   #9
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

From our entry into Victoria, BC on September 15, 2016:

On our approach to the harbor, perhaps a half an hour out, and many hours after crossing the border "line" far out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca: ...so we called CBP’s toll free line, just as the instructions in Waggoner’s guide and the CBP’s own website tell you to do. After a five minute wait, I explained our literal and figurative position. The response was, “Just go in and tie up.” OK, so what they told us to do was completely at odds with what all the written material says one must do. I also called the Great Victoria Harbor Authority for a slip, and they didn’t answer the phone or the VHF. Two for two.

The customs dock at Raymur Point was clearly marked, and the F/V Double Decker, who hailed from Canada, arrived there first. The skipper later told us that he’d gotten fuel in Port Angeles and so had to recheck back in. The dock was new and solid, concrete with both bull rails and huge cleats. There was a telephone to call Customs. And a sign that read: “We have been experiencing difficulties with our phone, so if it doesn’t work use your cell phone to call us at the 888 (national toll free) number.” Double Decker’s skipper tried the phone and it didn’t work. He tried his cell phone and that didn’t work either. I called the GVHA on Morgan’s cell and by VHF 66A and that didn’t work. Since Double Decker’s skipper was actually working, he was not amused. I kidded with him that they planned it this way so that we would be “serviced” after regular business hours and charged for it.


Eventually I was able to reach Shannon at the GVHA with the VHF, who said she’d advise the customs agents that we were here, and she called me back and checked us into a slip right in front of The Empress Hotel in the Inner Harbor, free wifi, 30A power and water. All for $71.50 a night including the $6 for power. Can’t stay here too long, and we got sticker shock from the higher rates than we’d had at Lapush ($15) and Neah Bay ($21).

Finally about 45 minutes later two customs agents showed up, a lady and a gruff gentleman officer. I pointed to Double Decker and said, “He’s first.” “We know that.” He handed me a cell phone and said, “Here, use this phone to call the office.” “You mean the 888 number?” “Yes, do it now.” And they boarded Double Decker. I got put on the five minute hold again, and told the agent that we were in Victoria. “Where are you? “Victoria at the customs dock.” “What marina are you in?” “We’re not at a marina, we’re at the customs dock, and we’re calling you because the officer here gave me this cell phone and told me to call you.” “Oh, you’ve arrived in Victoria?” “Yes.” This fella was really catching on quick. He finally got around to the real meat of the information: names, dob, passport numbers, vessel registration number, hailing port, destination, purpose of visit, length of stay, place we’re keeping the boat, etc. Then he gave me the CBP number which we need to display in one of our portlights. I hung up and we sat and waited for Mr. Grumpy to return.

The officer came over by himself about ten minutes later and asked if we’d done our business with the head office. “Give me my phone back.” “Yes, we have our number.” “Do you have any firearms?” “No.” “Do you have any produce, fruits or vegetables?” “No.” “How long are you going to be staying?” “About a month or month and a half.” “Why are you here?” “We’re visiting his grandfather and my father-in-law.” “Where?” “In Cowichan Bay.” Then he smiled, and said, “Welcome, have a nice stay, you’re free to go.” “Thanks.”
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Old 28-10-2016, 14:15   #10
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

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Originally Posted by SV DestinyAscen View Post
Not a lawyer but can't cite one article and ignore the rest of the convention as Art 24.1 actually specifically provides "except in accordance with this convention."

Art. 21 permits Canada to set reporting requirements. Also the United States is not a party to the convention, so I'm led to believe vis a vis US flag vessels, customary IL and existing treaties between US and Canada controls.
I can see why you aren't a lawer.

Article24

Duties of the coastal State

1. The coastal State shall not hamper the innocent passage of foreign ships through the territorial sea except in accordance with this Convention. In particular, in the application of this Convention or of any laws or regulations adopted in conformity with this Convention, the coastal State shall not:

(a) impose requirements on foreign ships which have the practical effect of denying or impairing the right of innocent passage; or

(b) discriminate in form or in fact against the ships of any State or against ships carrying cargoes to, from or on behalf of any State.



Now tell my why the Canadians aren't impairing your right of innocent passage when they say

Canadian law enforcement authorities patrol Canada's coasts and inland waterways and have the authority to stop any boat that has recently entered Canadian waters. Failure to report to the CBSA may result in detention, seizure or forfeiture of your boat and/or monetary penalties. The minimum fine for failing to report to the CBSA upon entry to Canada is Can$1,000.
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Old 28-10-2016, 14:38   #11
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
...

Now tell my why the Canadians aren't impairing your right of innocent passage when they say

Canadian law enforcement authorities patrol Canada's coasts and inland waterways and have the authority to stop any boat that has recently entered Canadian waters. Failure to report to the CBSA may result in detention, seizure or forfeiture of your boat and/or monetary penalties. The minimum fine for failing to report to the CBSA upon entry to Canada is Can$1,000.
I'm pretty sure USCG and all other US law enforcement on the water have the authority to stop and board any boat in US waters. How is this different? "Innocent passage" isn't immunity from being stopped or having to report in.
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Old 28-10-2016, 14:41   #12
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

There's no need to get snide. Again you can't apply Article 24 exclusive of other provisions, and Article 21 clearly permits Canadians to apply reasonable border and custom measures.

And again - the US is not a party. So between US and Canadian relations - customary IL and US/Canadian treaties apply.

Once states become parties to the convention, they don't just suddenly become borderless.
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Old 28-10-2016, 15:12   #13
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

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I'm pretty sure USCG and all other US law enforcement on the water have the authority to stop and board any boat in US waters. How is this different? "Innocent passage" isn't immunity from being stopped or having to report in.
Innocent passage isn't immunity from being stopped. However, forfeiting your boat for straying across an imaginary line is denying the rights to innocent passage. I'm not aware of any other UNCLOS signatory state which requires you to report in as soon as you cross into territorial waters UNLESS you are fishing, carrying nuclear weapons, or other such arcane issues.

Do you think the Russian carrier group which went down the English Channel reported in??
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Old 28-10-2016, 15:36   #14
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

It's really simple...you can sail non stop thru Canadian waters from Washington to Alaska...no big deal.

If you tack back & forth across into Canadian waters you are not complying with Canadian law so don't do it or report to Canadian customs.

At any rate it's easier than Canadian entering US waters...I just went & paid my $19 zarpe rate for permission to exit for Mexico on Sunday...as well as $19 to be allowed into the US from Canada the other month....they're taking mordida lessons from Mexico I think.
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Old 28-10-2016, 15:56   #15
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Re: New(ish) Rule for Entering Canadian Waters

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......................not aware of any other UNCLOS signatory state which requires you to report in as soon as you cross into territorial waters .............
The points of my earlier story from very recent experience was:

1. I didn't call in immediately upon entering Canadian waters, which we'd entered at around 0930 that morning and it was 1400 by the time we got close to Victoria.

2. When I did call in BEFORE we entered Victoria Harbor, they simply didn't care.

3. When we finally did reach them AFTER we were tied up at the Customs Dock (!!!), the phone didn't work and it took a while for the harbor authority (i.e., marina staff, not a real "authority") to chase the CBP officers down and get them to their own customs dock!

4. When we finally got the CBP officers there, when I called the centralized phone number, they asked me what marina I was in, and it took a few tries to get them to understand that we were actually at the Customs Dock itself and NOT in a marina.

The "centralized" system has its flaws. One national phone number to call in, where they don't know the local issues (i.e., you go to the customs dock when entering Victoria Harbor, which might be different when you are calling in from a phone-only marina, like Sidney for example) is kinda silly.

Otherwise, once we got their attention, they were efficient and friendly.

My personal experience, while singular, indicates to me that there is a certain LACK of immediacy in these situations.
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