Game wardens seize gill nets, seine in Rio Grande

HARLINGEN — Texas Game Wardens seized 5,000 feet of gill nets and a large shrimp seine overnight Monday, all illegally set by Mexican fishermen in the Rio Grande, officials said yesterday.

The patrol was similar to recent forays on the Rio Grande to remove banned gill nets from the U.S. side of the river. Typically these nets completely span the river into U.S. waters to take redfish and snook, among other species.

The wardens started at the mouth of the river near Boca Chica and went upstream about 15 miles, officials said.

“They were able to seize or pick up 25 nets that totaled up to 5,000 feet of net,” said Texas Game Warden Ira Zuniga. “They started by going down to the mouth of the river and that’s where they came across a seine.

“A seine is kind of like a gill net but the mesh is a lot smaller, like a shrimp trawl,” he added. “They were able to take one and then a group on the Mexican side was able to take the other one. That particular net is smaller so anything and everything that goes through there is going to get stopped. There were shrimp, there were crabs, there was everything.”

Wardens on the patrol say they released about 200 redfish and snook from the illegal gill nets.

The wardens’ patrol was the latest in a series of law enforcement efforts aimed at removing illegal Mexican gill nets from U.S. waters. In addition to the patrols on the Rio Grande, game wardens also patrol in the Gulf of Mexico, often seizing illegal long lines as well as the occasional Mexican lancha and crew fishing illegally for shark and red snapper.