Coast Guard Intercepts Two Chinese Fishing Vessels

JUNEAU, Alaska — International fisheries law enforcement operations continue with the interception of two Chinese fishing boats suspected of high-seas driftnet fishing in the North Pacific Ocean.

September 24, a Coast Guard HH-65 helicopter, deployed from Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, reportedly observed Zhe Dai Yuan Yu 1961 concealing net spreaders. Once boarded by a Joint U.S./Chinese Boarding Team from the Boutwell, the master of the vessel admitted to having two groups of nets approximately 18,000 to 21,000 feet in length.

These illegal driftnets were also spotted on board the Lu Rong Yu 1961 during a separate boarding Monday. The vessel had also attempted to disguise its name and origin.

Both vessels reportedly contained squid, shark fins and various other marine life. They were confirmed to be registered in the People’s Republic of China and taken into custody by a Chinese fisheries officer onboard Cutter Boutwell. The fishing vessels were then escorted to the Tsugaru Straight and transferred today to the Chinese Fisheries Law Enforcement Command Vessel 202.

High-seas driftnet enforcement cooperation between China, United States, Japan, Canada, Russia and Korea over the past years has resulted in a dramatic decrease in large-scale, high-seas driftnet activity in the North Pacific. “A handful of illegal driftnet fishermen can cause disproportionate damage to overstressed North Pacific Fisheries because the driftnet is so environmentally devastating,” said Capt. Michael Inman, Chief of Response, 17th Coast Guard Distict.

On September 6, Boutwell intercepted the vessel Lu Rong Yu 6007 for high-seas driftnet fishing and turned the vessel over to Chinese authorities September 13.

High seas driftnets are banned by a UN General Assembly Resolution; these fishing nets are over a mile and a half in length, and they indiscriminately catch massive amounts of fish and other marine life by means of suspension in open waters. The U.S. is party to a number of multilateral and bilateral international agreements to prevent and deter illegal driftnet fishing on the world commons of the high seas.

The Boutwell is 378-foot high endurance cutter based in Alameda, Calif., currently operating under the tactical control of the 17th Coast Guard District headquartered in Juneau.

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