CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Coast Guard Sector/ Air Station Corpus Christi stopped a lancha in federal waters and recovered three and a half nautical miles of illegal fishing gear. 

The Coast Guard says there were 109 entangled fish in federal waters off the coast of South Texas coast on Christmas Eve. 

Coast Guard Station South Padre Island and the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Chinook along with an HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew interdicted the lancha crew illegally fishing offshore. 

Crews spent five hours collecting both 109 fish and shark weighing approximately 630 pounds. 

The investigation locating five sets of illegal longline fishing gear was successful and 41 live red snappers and 13 sharks were released back into their habitat. 

A lancha is a small sailboat, that is often used for illegal fishing, mainly longline fishing.

U.S. Coast Guard says longline fishing is illegal in waters up to 200 nautical miles off the coast. 

Longline fishing is when multiple fishing lines are baited with hundreds of hooks, catching many fish at one time. 

Officials say that longline fishing and the gear are harmful to the environment. The impacts can be endangering to marine life, human life, and other habitats.

"The crew's dedication and commitment to providing persistent coverage along the U.S. and Mexican maritime boundary line is inspiring," said Captain John Smith, Sector Air Station Corpus Christi deputy scepter commander.

If you witness suspicious activity or illegal fishing in state waters, 9 miles offshore, please contact Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at 1-800-792-4263.

For all other suspicious activity along federal waters, please contact the US Coast Guard act 361-939-0450.

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