Coast Guard Seizes Over 7,000 Pounds of Fish

NEW ORLEANS – Coast Guard crews from Station Grand Isle, La., were dispatched early Friday morning to intercept two fishing vessels allegedly fishing illegally within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. A country’s EEZ is that nation’s territorial waters.

In the U.S. this spans from the three miles off a coastal state’s shore to two hundred miles offshore.

Using an intelligence report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement, crews from Coast Guard Station Grand Isle intercepted and simultaneously boarded two fishing vessels, the Sea Queen and Sea Queen III, near Cocodrie, La.

Both commercial longline vessels were fishing for highly migratory species such as tuna, swordfish and escolar. The boarding teams determined the crew of the Sea Queen caught fish without a required permit, while the crew of the Sea Queen III is alleged to have illegally caught fish in Mexico’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Both of these action are violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

With the assistance of a NOAA Fisheries Service special agent and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents, the Coast Guard seized a combined total of 7,070 pounds of fish, which were later sold at a fair market value of $23,577. The money will be held in escrow until the case has been thoroughly investigated and adjudicated.

These seizures represent the third and fourth seizures made during a joint effort between the Coast Guard and NOAA to thwart illegal fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Since Dec. 16, 2005, these joint efforts have resulted in the seizure of 19,470 pounds of illegally caught fish valued at over $68,000, in addition to other substantial civil penalties and permit sanctions levied by NOAA.

First enacted in 1976, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act was amended and reauthorized by President Bush in 2006 as part of his Ocean Action Plan. The updated Act authorizes activities to promote improved monitoring and compliance for high seas fisheries and fisheries governed by international fishery management agreements.

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