By Dustin Williams
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coast Guard interdicted a Mexican fishing crew in the waters off South Texas early Thursday morning with 445 pounds of illegally caught red snapper.
At approximately 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, a Customs and Border Protection aircrew alerted Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi watchstanders of a Mexican fishing boat, also known as a lancha, poaching fish approximately six miles north of the U.S./Mexico maritime border and almost 18 miles from shore.
The watchstanders launched a Station South Padre Island boatcrew aboard a 33-foot law enforcement boat and an Air Station Corpus Christi aircrew aboard an MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter. The Coast Guard boatcrew located the lancha 2 miles north of the border and 13 miles offshore. They stopped the lancha after a two-mile pursuit just south of the maritime border and 12.5 miles offshore.
The crew of four Mexican nationals admitted to fishing illegally in U.S. waters. The crew's catch consisted of 133 red snapper totaling 445 pounds. The Coast Guard estimates over 1,100 annual lancha incursions into U.S. regulated waters, poaching upwards of 760,000 pounds of red snapper each year.
“The success of this mission was only made possible by the continued collaborative efforts of federal law enforcement agencies," said Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Allen, chief of law enforcement for Sector 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 and Wildlife “Operation Game Thief” at 1-800-792-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.