Coast Guard seeks new aerostat to slow illegal cross-border netting

1 year 1 week 5 days ago Monday, September 19 2022 Sep 19, 2022 September 19, 2022 9:23 PM September 19, 2022 in News - Local

As a new round of congressional funding is discussed, leadership at the U.S. Coast Guard South Padre Island station are hoping a former coastal fixture could come back.

An aerostat used to fly over South Padre Island, allowing crews to use cameras at its high elevation to monitor for poaching, drugs and illegal cross-border marine traffic.

That aerostat was damaged due to winds in 2018.

The program, officially dubbed a trial, was scrubbed, according to Lt. Shane Gunderson, commander of the Coast Guard Station.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act is being discussed in Congress, now Senator Ted Cruz introduced language to bring back the aerostat.

Gunderson said that change, and other changes proposed in the new language, would bring needed resources to the lone southernmost outpost where the ocean meets the border.

Longline and gill nets continue to be a problem for the U.S. Coast Guard.

RELATED: US Coast Guard saves shark from tangled illegal fishing gear near SPI

With redfish run and other spawning seasons coming up, the opportunity for lancheros try to raise their luck.

The lanchas operate within miles at South Padre Island, sometimes even bringing gill nets right up to the shore.

The U.S. Coast Guard says they see a lot of repeat offenders out on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, people who they catch today might be back the following day.

Their task is to enforce laws along the coast, from the border, and up past port Mansfield, but it also stretches 50 miles westward into the U.S. maritime boundaries.

Watch the video above for the full report. 

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