DURING the COVID-19 crisis, the border has been closed to all nonessential traffic, and the RCMP’s Federal Border Integrity – ShipRider Program continues to fine US boaters who contravene the Quarantine Act.
On Sunday, September 27, RCMP members with the ShipRider program were patrolling along the US-Canada marine border in the Southern Gulf Islands region when they encountered a Seasport cabin cruiser out of Bellingham, Washington, anchored in the Crescent Beach Channel near Blackie Spit. The two occupants of the vessel were identified as a 49-year-old US man from Bellingham and a 50-year-old woman from Surrey. Investigators discovered that the man had left his home port that morning and picked up his girlfriend at Elgin Park Marina in Surrey. The man had failed to report his crossing into Canada and did not meet the entry requirements under the current quarantine restrictions.
In consultation with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), police arrested the man under the Customs Act and his vessel was seized for failure to report inwards. A search of the man’s vessel confirmed that the trip was simply personal in nature and no other criminality was involved. The RCMP fined the man $1,000 for contravening the Quarantine Act and he was released without further charges. He was required to pay an additional $1,000 for the return of his vessel and leave Canada immediately.
The woman was taken to the nearby Crescent Beach Marina where she obtained a ride back to her vehicle. Her plan was to self-isolate and get a COVID-19 test if she experiences any COVID-19-like symptoms in the next 14 days.
RCMP warned that boaters found illegally within Canadian waters may face severe penalties, including fines, seizure of their vessels and/or criminal charges. Failure to report in and other Customs Act contraventions may make foreign nationals inadmissible to Canada.
Consult the CBSA website for information on reporting requirements for private boaters entering Canadian waters and COVID-19: Travel restrictions, exemptions and advice.