Coast Guard crews seize 10 miles of illegal long line

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard crews seized a total of 10 miles of long line fishing gear from multiple Mexican fishermen operating illegally in U.S. waters over the past several days.

Coast Guard Cutter Sturgeon crewmembers seized two miles of long line gear Friday. Coast Guard Station South Padre Island crewmembers seized another seven miles total Saturday and Sunday. Coast Guard Cutter Seahawk crewmembers removed another one mile of gear Monday. The majority of the gear was found approximately 30 miles off the coast of South Texas.

Each mile of long line have scores of baited hooks and are capable of catching hundreds of fish per mile. The seized lines were discovered with 160 Red Snapper, 226 Sharks and several other reef fish. Approximately 50 of these fish were found alive and released at sea.

Federal law mandates any gear deployed by a permitted fishing vessel is required to be marked at the surface with the vessel’s identification information, and must have an attached light and radio beacon. The fishing gear seized by Coast Guard crews did not meet these requirements.

This poaching, also known as Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing (IUU), is not an isolated problem in the Western Gulf of Mexico. It is faced by law enforcement and regulatory agencies throughout the world.

“IUU is practically a daily occurrence on the maritime border,” said Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, Response Officer at Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi. “Our goal remains to stop the illegal foreign fishing threat on the border. So that means we want to safely interdict the Mexican fishermen at sea prior to them soaking their gear. However, we often settle for the alternative, which is the expeditious removal of the nets and long line gear from the water to return as many live fish back to the sea as possible.”

The Coast Guard partners with several federal and state agencies to combat illegal fishing in South Texas. If you witness suspicious or illegal fishing in state waters (out to nine miles offshore), please contact Texas Parks & Wildlife “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 United States Coast Guard at 361-939-6393.

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