A Mexican boat poaching fish in U.S. waters off South Texas was seized Saturday, after it was spotted by a Coast Guard aircraft and intercepted by a boatcrew from Station South Padre Island. The lancha was one of five spotted in the area.
At approximately 4 p.m., a Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon aircrew spotted five lanchas fishing north of the U.S. and Mexico maritime border inside the Exclusive Economic Zone.
A law enforcement boatcrew from Station South Padre Island was dispatched to investigate the report. Once on scene the Coast Guard crew spotted a lancha near the reported position and interdicted them 16 miles north of the border with 48 dead red snapper onboard. No pursuit was initiated.
The five Mexican nationals aboard the lancha were brought back to Station South Padre Island where they were turned over to Customs and Border Protection for release to Mexican law enforcement officials. The catch was disposed of at sea.
"What we witnessed today was a fleet of foreign fishing vessels likely committing significant and intentional violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Act," said Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, the response officer at Coast Guard Sector Corpus Christi. "Unfortunately, this illegal exploitation of red snapper has been a persistent problem for federal and state agencies and a threat to future recreational and commercial fishing seasons in South Texas."