Coast Guard, Chinese Law Enforcement Officer Interdict 28 Illegal Fishermen on High Seas

JUNEAU, Alaska — A People’s Republic of China Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (FLEC) officer on board the Coast Guard Cutter Munro, seized a Chinese fishing vessel suspected of illegal large-scale high-seas drift net fishing 400 miles east of Hokkaido, Japan.

Spotted and vectored in by a Coast Guard H-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Los Angeles, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro and the FLEC officer intercepted the Zhe Pu Yu Leng with 28 fishermen on board. The fishing vessel attempted to evade the helicopter crew several times by changing course, extinguishing all lights on board the vessel and trying to hide among the nearby fishing fleet.

The boarding team including the FLEC officer determined the vessel had 20 kilometers of driftnet, 140 tons of squid on board and was rigged for large-scale high-seas driftnet fishing, and was registered in the People’s Republic of China.

“Our embarked FLEC representatives were key to the operational success of this seizure and the overall mission over the last four months,” said Captain Craig B. Lloyd, Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Cutter Munro, “Their authority over the Chinese fishing vessels and their direct contact with their superiors in Beijing both contributed to the seamless, timely and professional execution of the mission.”

Munro will accompany the Zhe Pu Yu Leng 9 until a Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement Command patrol vessel can escort it back to China where further investigation and final legal disposition for suspected violations of People’s Republic of China fisheries law will occur.

A driftnet has the ability to indiscriminately catch massive amounts of fish and other marine life by means of suspension in open water. The U.S. Coast Guard participates in the international cooperative efforts against large-scale high-seas drift net fishing as encouraged by the United Nations, including closely coordinated patrols with the member nations of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC) and North Pacific Coast Guard Forum (NPCGF).

“This method of fishing is not only illegal, it shows a lack of respect for the world’s ecosystem,” said Capt. Michael Inman, chief of response for the 17th Coast Guard District, based here.

The U.S. Coast Guard partners closely with Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – National Marine Fisheries Service as well as the Department of State to achieve U.S. goals and objectives for living marine resource conservation.

As the only U.S. agency with the infrastructure and authority to project law enforcement presence throughout the 3.36 million square mile U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and in key areas of the high seas, the U.S. Coast Guard is the lead U.S. agency for at-sea enforcement of living marine resource laws. This case reflects the value of having a multi-mission maritime service adequately equipped to protect critical marine resources.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro is a 378-foot high endurance cutter based in Kodiak, Alaska.

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