Special to the PRESS
A lancha and Mexican fishermen were initially found adrift in the waters of southern Texas by a good Samaritan aboard a fishing boat. The good Samaritan attempted to assist them, but when they overheard the captain of the fishing boat call the Coast Guard to report the incident at 1:10 p.m., the lancha crew untied themselves and resumed drifting.
Coast Guard Station South Padre Island responded by launching a 33-foot response boat and crew who seized the lancha and catch at approximately 2:30 p.m. The boat crew towed the lancha back to their station where the fishermen were transferred to Customs and Border Protection.
“Although the catches seized in cases such as this are often not suitable to be brought to market, we have been working to find creative alternatives with local partners such as the Sea Turtle, Inc. organization, NOAA Fisheries, and the South Padre Island National Park Service to reuse these resources to best benefit the local maritime habitats that are most affected by these activities,” said Cmdr. Daniel Deptula, response officer for Sector Corpus Christi. “Illegal fishing activities, such as gill netting, for example, kill many sea turtles and other protected marine animals. Unfortunately, illegal fishing activities from lanchas coming across the border have increased and negatively impacts the local fishing industry at large. We ask that mariners assist in protecting our natural resources and marine wildlife by keeping a sharp look out for any suspicious activity and immediately report sightings to the U.S. Coast Guard on marine band radio through channel 16 or call 911.”
The term ‘lancha’ refers to crudely made, open-hauled, fiberglass skiff boats, normally around 25 feet in length that are frequently used for a variety of smuggling activities.
For more information on the impact of illegal fishing activities, see the Coast Guard’s site on Living Marine Resources or NOAA’s website on fisheries.
Read this story in the Dec. 20 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.