U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the Area Port of New Orleans charged the crew members of one cargo ship with several counts of illicit fishing after officials say they took in 348 pounds of South Atlantic red snappers from the Gulf of Mexico at the Southwest Pass on June 19.
The crew was charged with possessing more than their limit of red snappers, angling without a non-resident license and angling without a saltwater non-resident license, officials said in a statement Monday.
“This seizure exemplifies the agriculture specialists’ dedication to the protection of the Louisiana agriculture industry,” Kendall P. Gaines, a Supervisory CBP Agriculture Specialist, said. “Collaboration between agencies is a key factor in ensuring that the natural resources of the State of Louisiana are preserved for both present and future generations.”
Because of overfishing, the red snapper is a protected species, and fishermen are limited to just two red snappers per licensed person. The fish must also be at least 16 inches or larger.
Officials say the red snapper population is in the process of being rebuilt in the Gulf but it could take until 2032 before it’s stabilized.
The fish seized in last month’s bust were turned over to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries commission. The crew members involved could be fined or face jail time.