Commercial shrimper caught with illegal red snapper catch — Owner could face $20,000 fine

The crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Heron seized approximately 120 red snapper from the U.S. flagged shrimping vessel Capt. Wallace B from Brownsville, last week.

At approximately 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, the Heron was on a routine patrol when they conducted a law enforcement boarding on the fishing boat Capt. Wallace B and discovered the illegal catch. Currently, the red snapper fishery in federal waters is only by commercial fishing vessels with reef fish permits with an individual fishing quota for red snapper. The recreational fishing season for red snapper in federal waters is closed.

The fishing boat was escorted to Port Isabel, and the catch was turned over to a National Marine Fisheries Service agent. The vessel owner could receive civil penalties in excess of $20,000.

During the last year, 64 miles of illegal fishing gear were removed from federal waters by Coast Guard authorities. This included unlit, unmarked longline and gillnet.

“This is a problem for our commercial shrimp fleets that operate in South Texas waters primarily at night. In this case, keeping the red snapper is a clear violation,” said Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, response officer at Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi.

“This area and the red snapper populations particularly have long been exploited by illegal fishing activities. Approximately 760,000 pounds of red snapper are estimated to be taken annually from South Texas waters without permit or license. Being good stewards of the environment is a major concern and serious commitment for our service,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Parsons, Boarding Officer for Coast Guard Cutter Heron.

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