Coast Guard issues fishing violations to New Bedford vessels

Lady JusticeBOSTON – Two New Bedford based fishing vessels were issued violations for significant Atlantic Sea Scallop management plan fisheries infractions on March 23, 2011.

The vessels were issued violations for unauthorized scallop fishing inside of the Hudson Canyon Closed Area and for fishing outside of the Elephant Trunk Access Area while declared to fish inside an area open to fishing known as the Elephant Trunk Access Area.

The vessels were cited for the violations based on U.S. Coast Guard aircraft video imagery obtained during a joint Coast Guard and National Marine Fisheries Service fisheries enforcement patrol. Coast Guard and National Marine Fisheries Service personnel are continuing to conduct joint operations targeting vessels fishing for scallops illegally inside the Hudson Canyon closed area east of New Jersey as well as fishing in open areas when they are declared to fish inside of access areas.

“This is the third violation we have issued in the Hudson Canyon area to scallop vessels homeported in New Bedford over the past month,” said Capt. Peter DeCola, chief of law enforcement in the Coast Guard’s 1st District.

On March 2nd, the Coast Guard Cutter Elm issued a violation to a scallop vessel from New Bedford for fishing 1.5 miles inside the Hudson Canyon Closed Area.

“Based on the recent trends it appears there are vessels coordinating their operations over multiple trips to evade law enforcement detection and engage in illegal fishing in the Hudson Canyon Closed Area,” said DeCola. “By fishing in this area prior to an opening, these vessels were able to make tens of thousands of dollars more per trip than vessels fishing legally within the Elephant Trunk Access Area or other open area trips.”

Areas where scallops can be harvested are rotated to maximize scallop yields and to protect beds of young scallops.

“We will continue to work with all of our law enforcement partners and keep a close eye on the fishing activity in this area to protect the scallop resource moving forward,” Cmdr. Chris Strong, Coast Guard’s 5th District chief of law enforcement.

In addition to its other missions, the Coast Guard routinely works with the National Marine Fisheries Service to enforce regulations aimed at ensuring the continued success of this resource and the viability of the legitimate fishing operations that depend on them.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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