Coast Guard takes to the skies to patrol marine life, fishing industry

Coast Guard takes to the skies to patrol marine life, fishing industry

BOURNE, Mass. — Coast guard crews are stepping up their enforcement in a way that few people may realize.

They're trying to protect a billion-dollar industry and the animals that live right off our coast.

On board with the U.S. Coast Guard, they're focused on what's on the water. While most people see this as the role of local crews, they're also spending more time in a C-144 airplane high above the waters of New England looking for certain boats.

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They're making sure the boats are where they're supposed to be and not impacting marine life, especially now with the right whales moving back into the area. But the health of the animals is just one part of it.

"It's also greatly important to the economic vitality of the coastal communities that depend on them," Lt. Greg DeYoung said.

Money that comes from people fishing illegally is a year-round concern, but one that picks up right about now with new areas open to fishermen.

Recently, the Coast Guard found a massive haul on a boat in Buzzard's Bay.

They say it's evidence of illegal fishing, with 100 black sea bass on board. So much that they terminated the voyage.

The enforcement is an effort involving crews in the air and on the water.

"If we happen to find a vessel illegally fishing in an enclosed area, we pass that information to our surface assets so that they can conduct a boarding," Lt. Chris McKay said.

Possibly leading to fines or maybe more. Those crews also spend their time in the air, making sure that foreign boats aren't coming into the area when they shouldn't be.