US cutter in Pacific pursues fish piracy case

A Hawaii-based Coast Guard cutter assigned to Alaska waters is near Japan pursuing a vessel suspected of illegal high seas driftnet fishing.

Coast Guard Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr. noted the ongoing case Monday as he testified at a Senate subcommittee hearing in Kodiak, Alaska.

Papp says the 378-foot cutter Rush was nearly to Japan and escorting the stateless vessel.

Papp says the vessel has been boarded and 40 tons of fish was found on board. He says the crew had fished with an illegal 8-mile driftnet.

Paul Niemeier (NEE'-my-er) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says high seas driftnets target salmon, tuna or squid but catch anything in their paths, including marine mammals, seabirds and other fish.

The nets have been banned internationally since 1992.

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