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All foreign vessels entering Canadian Arctic waters should register with authorities says report by Senate Fisheries and Oceans Committee

Controlling Canadian Arctic Waters:
Role of the Canadian Coast Guard


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Ethel M. Cochrane

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Voyage of the Beserk II

Excerpt from: Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans,
 5 November 2009

The Berserk II had pulled into Halifax Harbour on June 22, 2007, after spending some time in New York City.  At that time, one Norwegian crew member was determined to be inadmissible to Canada based on his membership in a criminal organization.  Another Norwegian crew member withdrew his application to enter Canada after it was determined that he would not be permitted to enter based on his previous convictions outside Canada for drug smuggling and assaulting a police officer.

The ship left Halifax for Newfoundland where it took on a Norwegian crew member before continuing to Greenland. Once in Hvalsey, Greenland, the Berserk II took on two new crew members, one being an American citizen.  It was later determined that he had an extensive criminal history and that he was inadmissible to Canada.  The second crew member that boarded in Greenland was the Norwegian national with the criminal conviction who had been permitted previously at Halifax to withdraw his application to enter Canada.  Although he had returned to Norway on June 28, 2007, he later flew to Hvalsey, Greenland, to re-board the vessel. The Berserk II left Greenland and proceeded to enter Canadian waters.

The Berserk II landed at Gjoa Haven, Nunavut on August 22 and failed to contact the Canada Border Services Agency or the RCMP.  The RCMP has the delegated authority to enforce the Immigration andRefugee Protection Act as well as the Customs Act in the North where there is no Canada Border Services Agency presence.  The captain of the Berserk II told the Gjoa Haven RCMP detachment that he thought it was unnecessary to report to the Canada Border Services Agency or the RCMP claiming that he had not left Canadian waters.

The Berserk II left Gjoa Haven for Cambridge Bay before information relating to the criminality of the crewmembers was known. It was, therefore, before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was able to take action.  The Gjoa Haven RCMP alerted the Cambridge Bay RCMP detachment to meet the Berserk II when it arrived there.

Prior to docking in Cambridge Bay, the captain gave the two crewmembers firearms and put them ashore outside of town. This was considered an attempt by the captain of the Berserk II to shield their presence on the vessel from Canadian law enforcement, having full knowledge that their criminality would make them inadmissible to Canada.

On August 24, Cambridge Bay RCMP took the remaining crewmembers into custody while docking. On August 29, after five days at large, the two armed crew members were arrested and detained by Cambridge Bay RCMP.
Ultimately, all five were removed from Canada three of the crew under deportation order relating to their criminality, and two under exclusion orders for failing to report to the CBSA under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Charges for failing to report to the Canada Border Services Agency upon entry to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act were withdrawn in return for their immediate departure to their countries of origin.

Source: Philip Whitehorne, Chief of Operations, Inland Enforcement Section, Intelligence and Enforcement Division, Northern Ontario Region, Canada Border Services Agency, Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, 5 November 2009.


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