WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins today released the following statement in response to a United States Department of State letter supporting their position that all vessels enjoy a non-suspendable right of innocent passage into and out of Passamaquoddy Bay through Head Harbor Passage.

“The State Department has rightly determined that the Canadian government’s limitation of the right of free passage of American vessels through the international waters of Head Harbor Passage is not consistent with the international law of the sea,” Snowe and Collins said in a joint statement. 

“We certainly agree with the Department of State that Canada should be engaged with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s process and their input should be valued, however the Canadian Government does not have the authority to unilaterally suspend the right of innocent passage.  We believe that the right of innocent passage must be consistently maintained and we urge Maine state officials to continue to make this case to their Canadian counterparts.”

Snowe and Collins had contacted the Department of State on February 1, 2007 to voice their concern that Canadian officials were threatening to block passage of certain ships through Head Harbor Passage, in violation of international law.  Head Harbor Passage provides the only connection for large ships between the Atlantic Ocean and the east coast of Washington County.  This passage is critical for vital Maine ports.