Chinese vessel detained by US Coast Guard fishing for salmon with illegal driftnets

The United States Coast Guard on 23 June detained a Chinese fishing vessel it suspected of illegal fishing, in international waters about 860 nautical miles off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan.

A coast guard Kodiak C-130 aircraft initially spotted the ship during a routine patrol. Chinese Coast Guard officials were also involved in the operation and boarded with the USCG. 

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the captain of the Run Da admitted to fishing with driftnets up to 5.6 miles in length and the vessel is suspected of violation a United Nations worldwide driftnet moratorium.

"Reducing the catch of salmon out in the ocean reduces the chance of them coming back to spawn again," said Lt. Brian Dykens, an Alaska spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard. "So it's really about food security and to regulate the fisheries.”

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, this marks the first apprehension of a large scale driftnet vessel since 2014. 

The Chinese vessel, Run Da, was found to have 80 tons of illegally-caught chum salmon and a ton of illegally-caught squid. The crew of the ship was turned over to the Chinese Coast Guard in international waters. The crew of 29 Chinese nationals will be transported back to China for prosecution. The 164-foot Run Da has also been transferred to the Chinese government.

The 282-foot cutter Alex Haley, which participated in the detention of the Run Da, is a North Pacific multi-national fisheries enforcement patrol ship. The 105-person crew is supported by Canada, China, Japan, Russia, and the Republic of Korea. The Alex Haley is based in Kodiak, Alaska. 


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