The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Rush shadows the pirate fishing vessel Da Cheng. Coast Guard photo
high-seas driftnetter the U.S. Coast Guard chased across the North Pacific
Ocean has been turned over to Chinese Fishery Law Enforcement. The crew from
the Hawaii-based cutter Rush, which had been patrolling Alaska waters, boarded
the ship, identified as the Da Cheng, just over two weeks ago and found 30
metric tons of illegally-caught albacore tuna and six metric tons of shark and
shark fin on board.
Kodiak, Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp called the 177-foot gillnetter a pirate
ship, prompting Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu to call for prosecution of not
only the crew, but of the illegal seafood's buyers.
Capt. Diane Durham, commanding officer of the Cutter Rush,
shakes hands with a China Fishery Law Enforcement Command officer after
providing documentation and information in the transfer of custody of
the suspected high seas drift net fishing vessel Da Cheng Aug. 14, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo
driftnetting has been outlawed by international treaty for 20 years. The
10-mile nets the Da Cheng and other illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing
boats efficiently catch tuna, but also scoop up everything in their path. Some
nets are lost and drift for years, killing thousands of fish.
The crew of
the Rush turned the Da Cheng over to the Chinese about 850 miles east of Tokyo.