Coast Guard says four fishing boats crossed to Russian waters

Posted: Sunday, January 26, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- The Coast Guard directed four U.S. fishing vessels into port after the agency detected them fishing in Russian waters Wednesday and Thursday.

Fishing across maritime boundary line is a violation of federal law.

The four vessels are the Arctic Wind, Pacific Star, Ocean Olympic of Seattle and Adventure of Petersburg.

''To our knowledge this is the first time U.S. vessels have been observed to have been fishing in Russian waters,'' said Coast Guard spokesman Darrell Wilson in Anchorage.

The 378-foot Coast Guard cutter Midgett and Coast Guard C-130 aircraft from Kodiak have been patrolling the maritime boundary line during the Opilio crab fisheries.

At the request of the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Coast Guard directed the vessels to cease operations, retrieve their fishing gear and proceed to port. All vessels complied.

The Cutter Midgett is monitoring their progress.

The Seattle vessels are on their way to Unalaska in the Aleutian Islands. The Adventure is proceeding to St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands about 275 miles northwest of Unalaska. The vessels are expected to dock Saturday.

Once in port, U.S. federal and state authorities will continue their investigations, the Coast Guard said.

Russian authorities were notified of the developments by the State Department.

The Coast Guard enforces The Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to import or acquire fish taken in violation of a U.S. treaty or any foreign law.

The cutter Midgett operates with a crew of 161 men and women and is home ported in Seattle.

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