Spear fisherman is arrested

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Posted by on April 25, 2005 at 10:23:50:

In Reply to: Re: Stinkin' poachers posted by JR Gordon on April 25, 2005 at 10:00:23:

Lifeguards David Rains (left) and Brian Ferguson removed the spear from the giant black sea bass.
A spear fisherman is arrested after a 200-pound giant black sea bass, a protected species, is shot and killed. If convicted, he faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each offense.

A spear fisherman was arrested yesterday after a 200-pound giant black sea bass, a protected species, was shot and killed.

The sea bass may have been well-known to local swimmers in La Jolla, authorities said. "People know that fish," said San Diego lifeguard Erik Jones. "He hangs out at 'A' buoy and has been a friend to many swimmers."

Omid Adhami, 34, faces two misdemeanor charges of unlawfully fishing in a reserve and possession of a protected species. If convicted, he faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each offense, said state Department of Fish and Game warden Erik Fleet.

Jones said he saw Adhami and two other men in a small fishing boat near the San Diego-La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve about 12:15 p.m. Jones said he saw the boat pull up near the "A" buoy, one of a number of yellow buoys that mark the reserve's boundaries.

Giant black sea bass
A 1982 state law prohibits anyone but researchers from taking the fish. Once rare because of overfishing, the big, gentle creatures have made a comeback in recent years. While no one knows how many there are, there have been increased sightings of the giant black sea bass off Southern California. They are not afraid of divers, can live to be 100 and range in length from 3 to more than 7 feet and can weigh more than 500 pounds.

Jones said he kept an eye on the men since they were so close to the 512-acre reserve. Established in 1972, it is one of the first and largest no-fishing areas along the California coast and has an abundance of sea life.

Jones said the men were in scuba gear with tanks and had spear guns. About half an hour later, he said, the men were "wrestling something pretty large" in the reserve. "They fought with it for about five minutes," Jones said. "It took all three of them to get it in the boat."

"I dispatched one of our rescue boats, which escorted them to the dock," he said. "We caught them a mile away."

Fleet said Adhami told investigators that he was not inside the reserve.

"He told us he didn't know what the fish was and that he was afraid of it," Fleet said. "But if you've fished for any amount of time, you know what a giant black sea bass looks like."

The two unidentified men with Adhami were released.

As he was being taken away in handcuffs, Adhami was asked by a reporter if he knew the fish was protected. Adhami replied: "No, ma'am, I didn't."

Jones said he's fairly certain that the black sea bass killed yesterday has been in the reserve for many years. Officials estimated the fish was 50 years old.

"A lot of people are going to be shocked that he was shot," Jones said. "If it's the same fish, and it likely is, it would come right up to you."

Lifeguards pulled the long spear out of the bass and loaded it in Fleet's truck. The fish was taken as evidence to the Fish and Game Department's San Diego office.

Lifeguard Lt. Rick Wurts said San Diego lifeguards and Fish and Game officials are investigating and more charges may be filed.

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