Skagway mayor frustrated with customs rules affecting Yukon boaters

CBC NewsEye on the Arctic

The mayor of Skagway, Alaska, says the municipality is seeking legal opinions on new boating regulations that affect Canadians.

U.S. Customs and Border Services now requires Canadians to report their arrival at Alaskan ports. It changes procedures that have been in place for decades and has left many Yukon boat owners frustrated because they aren’t sure what the rules are anymore.

Skagway Mayor Stan Selmer says the sudden changes are silly. He says he drives through Canada and once he clears Customs does not have to report into each town he arrives at.

Selmer says the new interpretation of the rules may have grave economic consequences for the town of Skagway.

“This black eye that we’ll get because we’ve taken good neighbours and been less than responsible in encouraging them to come down here ... I’m really concerned about our whole economy,” he said.

Selmer says they’ve just spent $10 million upgrading the municipality’s boat harbour, mostly to accommodate Canadian boaters.

He says they’re also counting on ore shipments through Skagway’s port.

Selmer says they’re seeking legal opinions on maritime law to see if the regulations can be changed or interpreted differently.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.