Poachers arrested after Coast Guard spots illegal lancha

Written by U.S. Coast Guard

The Coast Guard interdicted a Mexican fishing crew who fled from authorities Sunday, after poaching shark, red snapper, and eel in the waters off South Texas.

At approximately 12:30 p.m. Sunday, an Air Station Corpus Christi MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew observed a Mexican fishing boat, also known as a lancha, 22 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico maritime boundary line and 31 miles offshore.

Sector Corpus Christi watchstanders diverted a Station South Padre Island law enforcement boatcrew to intercept.  After a 32 minute aerial pursuit, the Coast Guard boatcrew arrived and the lancha crew complied with orders to stop. The lancha had six sharks weighing 154 pounds, 66 red snapper weighing 428 pounds, seven eels weighing 20 pounds, four people and fishing gear aboard the vessel when it was stopped.

All the catch was returned to the sea and the fishermen were turned over to Customs and Border Protection.

“The success of this mission was only made possible by the continued collaborative efforts of local, state, and federal agencies,” said Cmdr. Te-Ali Coley, the air operations officer for Air Station Corpus Christi. “It is only through the continued cooperation of all involved agencies, the professionalism of our crews, and the support of the local community that we can hope to defeat this threat to U.S. economic and physical security.”

If you witness suspicious or illegal fishing in state waters (out to 9 miles offshore), please contact Texas Parks & Wildlife “Operation Game Thief” at (800) 792-GAME (4263).  For all suspicious or illegal fishing occurring in federal waters (out to 200 miles offshore), please contact the U.S. Coast Guard at (361) 939-6393.

Photo by U.S.C.G.

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