San Diego Diver Arrested for Spearing 200-Pound Black Sea Bass

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Posted by on May 04, 2005 at 23:19:35:

In Reply to: diver arrested for spearing black sea bass posted by scubacop on May 04, 2005 at 22:31:41:

A San Diego scuba diver was arrested after he shot, killed and boated a 200-lb. black sea bass near the San Diego-La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve April 24. Because they were fished to the brink of extinction, black sea bass have been illegal to take in California since 1982.

Omid Adhami, 34, and two other men were diving close to one of the buoys that mark the reserve boundaries when San Diego Lifeguard Erik Jones noticed them struggling with a large fish, reports stated.

Knowing that a particular black sea bass frequented the area near the buoy, Jones watched from shore with interest as all three men wrestled the fish into their vessel. Black sea bass, which can live 100 years and grow to 500 pounds, are somewhat territorial. Since they have few enemies in nature, some of the behemoths allow scuba divers to approach them.

After witnessing the alleged kill, Jones dispatched a lifeguard rescue boat, which intercepted Adhami and his associates about a mile away. Adhami was escorted to Mission Bay, where he was handcuffed and arrested on two misdemeanor charges of unlawfully fishing in a reserve and possession of a protected species, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune report. The two men who apparently helped Adhami bring the fish onto the boat were not cited, sources said. If convicted, Adhami faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for each offense.

“I don’t know how black sea bass play into the ecological aspect of [the fishery], but to shoot a big, 50-year-old fish like that is a crime,” said San Diego Lifeguard Sgt. Wayne Auer.

One junior angler, who asked that her name not be used in this article, compared the event to wildlife poaching in Africa. “It’s the same as shooting an elephant,” she said.

State Department of Fish and Game Marine Biologist Ed Roberts believes black sea bass need all the protection they can get. “They are slow growing, late maturing and residential in nature. Divers who know them notice they have distinct personalities. Some are skittish and others completely unafraid of divers. Part of what makes them susceptible is that they form spawning groups and are easy to target. They were fished very hard from 1950 to the late 1970s. There is some anecdotal evidence of a small comeback - based on encounters with anglers - but there are no formal estimates of their numbers.”

Both Auer and Roberts urged anglers to learn and abide by appropriate fishing regulations. Roberts also implored anglers to learn black sea bass release techniques. Anyone who believes they may be witnessing an illegal act should call 1-888-DFG-CALTIP (1-888-334-2258).

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