Coast Guard interdicts lancha, recovers illegal fishing gear in US waters

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (STL.News) The Coast Guard interdicted a lancha and recovered three and a half nautical miles of illegal fishing gear containing 109 entangled fish in federal waters off the coast of South Texas, Christmas Eve.

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Chinook, along with Coast Guard Station South Padre Island Response Boat-Small crews and a HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew, interdicted a lancha crew illegally fishing offshore South Texas and spent five hours locating five sets of illegal longline fishing gear containing 109 fish and shark weighing approximately 630 lbs.

The Chinook crew returned to recover the illegal long lines and were able to release 41 live red snapper and 13 sharks back into their habitat.

Longline fishing is illegal in waters up to 200 nautical miles off the U.S. coast. Longlines are a form of fishing gear that consists of multiple long lines that are baited with hundreds of hooks, attracting and catching many fish.  Longline fishing gear can be harmful and impact the environment when the fishing gear is lost and floats freely throughout the ocean, potentially entangling and killing marine life.

If you witness suspicious activity or illegal fishing in state waters, out to 9 miles offshore, please contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s “Operation Game Thief” at (800) 792-GAME (4263).  For all suspicious activity or illegal fishing occurring in federal waters, out to 200 miles offshore, please contact the U.S. Coast Guard at (361) 939-0450.