Coast Guard Catches Shrimping Vessel in Prohibited Area

10,000 Pounds of Rock Shrimp Could Be Seized

MIAMI – The Coast Guard Cutter Bluefin is currenlty escorting the 77-foot shrimping vessel, The Shootist, to Fort Pierce, Fla., after it was located operating in a prohibited area of Oculina Banks Habitat Area of Particular Concern, today.

Law enforcement officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noticed the vessel in the prohibited area after it was tracked by the the agency’s vessel monitoring system.

Once on scene, crewmembers from the Bluefin contacted the master of the vessel. The master stated he was carrying 10,000 pounds of rock shrimp on board.

“Without the working relationship between NOAA and the Coast Guard we wouldn’t have the continued success of fisheries enforcement in Oculina Banks,” said Capt. Micheal Jett, chief of Law Enforcment for the Coast Guard’s Seventh District.

In 1984, Oculina Bank was designated a Habitat Area of Particular Concern by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. This action closed a 92-square-kilometer area to trawling, dredging, longlining, and trapping.

The evidence package for this case will be forwarded to special agents from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, who will conduct a formal investigation.

Any catch to be seized by law enforcement officials will be sold at fair market value and all proceeds will go into an escrow account until the case is adjudicated.

Source: USCG D7 Public Affairs

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