Coast Guard saves 50 sharks caught illegally off South Padre Island, Texas

A Coast Guard Station South Padre Island, Texas, boat crew frees a shark from illegal gill net Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, near the U.S.-Mexico maritime boundary line. Mexican fishing boats departed as the crew approached and they found 1,800 foot of gill net with 55 sharks, five of which were dead, and two tripletail, which were all released back to the ocean. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

A Coast Guard Station South Padre Island, Texas, boat crew frees a shark from illegal gill net Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coast Guard freed 50 living sharks and two tripletail Tuesday, from illegal longline gear and gill net that was found about 400 yards offshore, near South Padre Island. Five dead sharks were also caught in the illegal fishing gear.

At 10:10 a.m., a Coast Guard Station South Padre Island patrol boat crew spotted four Mexican fishing boats 800 yards north of the U.S.-Mexico maritime boundary line. Upon the Coast Guard’s approach, they fled south of the maritime boundary line and the crew located the fishing gear left behind.

“The Coast Guard is absolutely invested and engaged daily in combating the intense illegal fishing by Mexican fisherman in U.S. waters,” said Capt. Tony Hahn, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi. “This requires our personnel to spend countless hours at sea to stop this indiscriminate violation of fisheries law and U.S. sovereignty. We sincerely appreciate any reports or information that can lead to stopping this criminal activity.”

If you witness suspicious or illegal fishing in state waters (out to 9 miles offshore), please contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s “Operation Game Thief” at 1-800-792-GAME (4263). For all suspicious or illegal fishing occurring in federal waters (out to 200 miles offshore), please contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 361-939-6393.

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