Houston Chronicle (Chron.com)
By Heather Alexander
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has put out a wanted poster after a steady increase in illegal fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Authorities say since October last year they have seized 28 illegal fishing launches or “lanchas” from the Gulf and retrieved 12 nautical miles of illegal long lines and gill nets.
Gill nets are sometimes known as “the wall of death;” one found in 2012 dropped 30 feet down and had caught 17 greater hammerhead sharks among other species of fish.
According to TPWD, a 2005 study by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Coast Guard estimated that nearly 2,000 lancha incursions were occurring per year in the earlier part of the decade. Officials suggest that assuming each long line resulted in the hooking of 30 sharks, that’s nearly 60,000 sharks a year.
“The Gulf of Mexico, Rio Grande, Falcon Lake and Amistad Lake are included in the affected areas,” said Grahame Jones, chief of Special Operations in a news release. “These acts of illegal and unreported fishing adversely impact both the recreational and commercial fishing industries.”
Anyone seeing illegal fishing equipment in the Gulf or other border water bodies, or who has any information about individuals involved in this activity, is urged to contact TPWD’s Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-792 GAME (4263) or via email at www.ogttx.com