On March 5, 19 fishermen from Mexico were caught fishing illegally north of the U.S. border. Texas Game Wardens, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Border Protection seized around 1250 pounds of illegally caught red snapper from four unregistered boats.

According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the fishermen were caught in the Gulf of Mexico, and the boats used were called “lanchas.” A lancha is a low-profile motorboat about 20-30 feet long that is not registered to any specific country. Its outboard makes it capable of traveling at speeds exceeding 30 mph.

According to NOAA Fisheries, commercial landings of red snapper totaled approximately 7.3 million pounds in 2022 and were valued at $35 million. Commercial fishermen typically harvest the species using hook-and-line gear, but sometimes, longlines and spears are used in the Gulf of Mexico. Some regulations prohibit fishing in certain areas of the Gulf to protect populations and other marine habitats.

Texas game warden Capt. Chris Dowdy said, “Working together as agencies makes wins like this possible. We appreciate the help of our local, state, and national partners in conserving Texas’ natural resources.”

One of the four vessels has more than 185 red snappers on board, accounting for over 1000 pounds. Photo courtesy of the U.S Coast Guard.

According to KHOUS 11, one of the boats had five fishermen aboard who tried to avoid the game wardens. The vessel had around 1000 pounds of red snapper.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife chief petty officer Glenn Jimenez said, “Combating illegal unregulated fishing is crucial to safeguarding our valuable resources and protecting the delicate marine environment.”

The Coast Guard detained the Mexican fishermen, brought them ashore, and transferred the crews to U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel for further processing.

Wild-caught red snapper is considered a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed under rebuilding plans that allow the U.S. to harvest in limited quantities. The 2023 commercial red snapper season opened on July 10 and ran until January 1, 2024, in the exclusive economic zones.

Have you listened to this article via the audio player above?

If so, send us your feedback around what we can do to improve this feature or further develop it. If not, check it out and let us know what you think via email or on social media.

Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

Join the Conversation

Secondary Featured