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Press Release | May 7, 2024

Coast Guard conducts 13 fisheries boardings, issues 25 violations off Texas coast

Coast Guard PADET Texas - Office: (281) 464-4810 / After Hours: (832) 293-1293

HOUSTON — The Coast Guard boarded 13 commercial fishing vessels and issued 25 safety and living marine resource violations during a patrol off the Texas coast, April 11-25.

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Hawk, an 87-foot coastal patrol boat homeported in Galveston, Texas, conducted living marine resource boardings on 13 commercial fishing vessels to review the vessels' documentation, examine the captains' permits and inspect the vessels' required safety equipment, fishing gear and, when applicable, the on-board catch.

The 25 infractions observed by the cutter's boarding teams included illegal possession of two shark fins, employment of an undocumented migrant worker and providing false information to a federal officer.  Cutter Hawk crew members also issued violations for expired hydrostatic releases for life rafts and emergency position indicating radio beacons, uncertified fire extinguishers, hazardous conditions of material, failure to maintain oil pollution programs, unregistered EPIRBs, EPIRBs with expired batteries and improper stowage of life rafts.

"The Coast Guard, alongside our partners, is committed to conducting at-sea enforcement of our nation’s domestic living marine resource laws," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Coachman, a boarding officer with Cutter Hawk. "We work tirelessly to advance responsible fisheries management and to protect the marine resources vital to our coastal communities"

The possession of shark fins is a class B misdemeanor and currently under investigation by Texas Game Wardens with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

"It is illegal to sell or purchase shark fins or products derived from them," said Jennifer Provaznik, Galveston County game warden. "We strictly enforce this statute and take it very seriously. Shark finning, or the removal of a shark's fin while it is still alive and discarding the rest of the animal, is inhumane and leaves the shark to die a slow death."

"There is significant global demand for shark fins and related products," said Les Casterline, assistant commander of fisheries enforcement. "To further prevent this type of activity from occurring in Texas, we recently enhanced and clarified our statutes and regulations regarding the possession, purchase and sale of shark fins. Our partnership with the Coast Guard is vital to our ability to enforce regulations of this nature and protect our state's marine resources."

Since Oct. 1, 2023, the Hawk crew has boarded 46 commercial fishing vessels and issued 36 safety and LMR violations.

In addition to fishery patrols, the Coast Guard's fleet of 87-foot coastal patrol boats perform search and rescue, law enforcement, drug interdictions, illegal migrant interdictions and homeland security duties up to 200 miles offshore.

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