AUSTIN, Texas —
Citations or arrests included four for sport fishing violations; two commercial fishing violations (possession of headed/tailed snapper, fillets seized from shrimp boat); two drug-related arrests; three alcohol-related arrests; and two local warrant arrests. In addition, two juvenile runaways were located.
Fish recovered from illegal long lines and gill net included Atlantic sharpnose sharks, black tip sharks, and red drum.
“TPWD is extremely appreciative of the long-term efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard in combating illicit commercial fishing activities in the Gulf,” Jones said, “particularly commercial vessels from Mexico which routinely fish state and federal waters using illegal long lines and gill nets.”
Sharks, the most common target of these vessels, are harvested not only for their meat, but also for their fins. Shark fins, used for soup, are considered some of the world’s most expensive seafood and high demand for it supports a world-wide black market.
Arrests in gill netting or long line cases are rare. When commercial fishermen from Mexico are caught in the act in Texas or U.S. waters, the only charges that can be filed are misdemeanors punishable by fines. However, the illegal fishing equipment and vessel can be seized.
Marine interests spotting gill nets or long lines in Texas waters are urged to call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-792GAME (4263), contact a game warden or notify the U.S. Coast Guard.