FISHING VESSEL USING DRIFT NETS LOCATED NEAR MIDWAY ISLAND

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HONOLULU (June 12, 1997 - PIDP/CPIS) ---A fishing vessel believed to be using illegal drift nets has been intercepted in international waters northwest of Midway Island in the Hawaiian Islands chain.

The US Coast Guard, after being alerted to the discovery of a large drift net by legal fishermen in the North Pacific area, sent a C-130 aircraft from Honolulu to survey the scene. The plane's crew videotaped both the drift net and the vessel suspected of using it.

A patrol boat from the Fisheries Agency of Japan now is at the scene, attempting to determine the national origin of the vessel.

Drift nets, which can range over scores of miles of the Pacific Ocean, capture and kill sea birds and mammals, unwanted fish, and turtles --including various endangered species-- in addition to fish for food. Large-scale drift net fishing generally is prohibited by international treaties and agreements.

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