“Coast Guard sets record for illegal fishing vessel interdictions” –District 8

Below are photographs and a news release from CCGD8’s public affairs detachment Sector/CGAS Corpus Christi. Would not normally report something like this, but there seems to have been a noteworthy change in either the behavior of the Mexican Fishing Fleet, or Coast Guard operations. Incidentally, there are no Webber class homeported in Sector Corpus Christi, but they do have four 87 foot WPBs. Three FRCs are to be assigned to the neighboring Houston/Galveston Sector.

A launch crew is interdicted by Coast Guard law enforcement crews for engaging in illegal fishing in federal waters off the coast of southern Texas April 6, 2020. Coast Guard crews consisting of air support, a small boat crew, and a cutter stopped three lanchas approximately 50 miles north of the Maritime Boundary Line, with a total of thirteen lanchamen were engaged in illegal fishing. Twelve miles of longline gear, illegal fishing equipment, as well as 2,020 lbs of illegally-caught Red Snapper were seized. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Coast Guard law enforcement crews count the catch of five Mexican lancha boat crews illegally fishing in federal waters off southern Texas at Station South Padre Island in South Padre Island, Texas, Nov. 16, 2019. A total of 6,186 lbs of red snapper and shark was onboard the lanchas. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi.

A Station South Padre Island law enforcement boat crew stops a lancha crew engaged in illegal fishing in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico April 30, 2020. Coast Guard law enforcement crews seized approximately 5,000 lbs of Red Snapper, 450 lbs of shark, and illegal fishing equipment from five lancha crews. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Station South Padre Island)

Coast Guard sets record for illegal fishing vessel interdictions

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Coast Guard law enforcement crews interdicted a record-setting number of lanchas throughout the Gulf of Mexico for fiscal year 2020.

Since October 2019, Coast Guard assets and personnel detected a total of 326 lanchas and interdicted 136.

Since the first recorded lancha interdiction in the late 1980s, the Coast Guard has seen a significant uptick in the detection of the vessels, particularly in the past two years, recording 74 lancha interdictions in the previous fiscal year.

The Coast Guard utilizes a layered approach for operations through aircraft, small boats, and cutters, as well as improved technology on those assets, resulting in the drastic increase in lancha interdictions.

“This past year, we applied an unprecedented level of effort along the Maritime Boundary Line towards countering this threat to our natural resources, and the result speaks for itself,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Prado, Coast Guard Sector/Air Station Corpus Christi enforcement chief. “However, we will not be content until we see an end to this affront on our maritime sovereignty. We will continue to leverage all available technology and partnerships to increase our effectiveness. The boating public can play a key role in assisting the Coast Guard. Successful interdictions are oftentimes the result of timely reports from the maritime community. We encourage all boaters to continue to report all suspected illegal fishing.”

A lancha is a fishing boat used by Mexican fishermen that is approximately 20-30 feet long with a slender profile. They typically have one outboard motor and are capable of traveling at speeds exceeding 30 mph. Lanchas pose a major threat, usually entering the United States’ Exclusive Economic Zone near the U.S.-Mexico border in the Gulf of Mexico with the intent to smuggle people, drugs, or poach the United States natural resources.

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 1-800-792-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.

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