Crack Down on Illegal Fish Trade

Texas Game Wardens are cracking down illegal fish trade in markets after nearly 20 area fish markets and restaurants were cited for buying illegal seafood. Image: KTRK

This is Passport to Texas

Houston has a dynamic culinary scene, where seafood is on the menu. In April, Texas Game Wardens wrapped up a two-year covert operation by issuing more than 150 citations to fish markets and restaurants in the Houston area that illegally purchased game fish from undercover officers.

Over the two year period, we approached approximately 40 businesses in the Houston area—restaurants and markets. And I think the final number was 19 purchased from us. So, about 50% purchased.

Captain Josh Koenig oversees the Game Warden’s Special Ops Criminal Investigations Division. During the two-year operation, wardens in plain clothes offered to sell more than a dozen different Texas saltwater species to seafood markets and restaurants along the upper Texas coast.

The black market fish market is definitely a global issue. The legal folks who are doing everything correct, it could put a damper on them; these illegal fish can change the market, and affect you then when you in turn go to buy fish. So, trying to slow down or stop the black market fish trade is a very high priority.

Wardens received tips from sources identifying businesses known to purchase fish under the table. They began approaching them using product seized from other cases. These covert investigations are ongoing.

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For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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