By Stephen Lehmann
A Mexican boat poaching fish from U.S. waters off South Texas was seized Wednesday, after it was spotted by a Coast Guard aircraft and intercepted by Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless.
Four 25-foot Mexican lancha fishing boats were spotted fishing approximately 38 nautical miles offshore and four nautical miles north of the U.S./Mexican border by the crew of a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon aircraft. The Falcon crew immediately notified Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi, who coordinated with the Dauntless and Coast Guard Station South Padre Island to intercept. The Dauntless deployed its over-the-Horizon 25-foot Interceptor boat and pursued the vessel for approximately four miles before it stopped. The lancha with four Mexican nationals on board stopped at approximately 7 p.m.
Using long line fishing gear, the lancha illegally caught 25 red snapper, two yellow fin grouper, and numerous sharks, including one hammerhead, in U.S. waters. Recreational fishing rules only allow two red snapper per person per day; however, the red snapper season is closed for the year.
"Continued Mexican lancha vessel incursions constitute a direct and persistent challenge to U.S. sovereignty and threaten our carefully calculated fisheries management efforts," said Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, Response Officer for Sector Corpus Christi. "Poaching can have a significant impact to the recreational fishermen and the South Texas tourism industry alike. Since we could not catch and stop the remaining three vessels, we will not know the overall poaching impact related to this multi-vessel incursion in U.S. waters."
The lancha crew was transported to Station South Padre Island where they were transferred to Customs and Border Protection agents and were eventually repatriated to Mexico. The illegally caught fish were disposed of at sea.