Lobster Poaching of Shorts on the Rise in Orange County

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Posted by DFG on February 26, 2010 at 13:11:30:

California Department of Fish and Game News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - February 25, 2010

Contact: Warden Patrick Foy 916-651-2084

Lobster Poaching of Shorts on the Rise in Orange County

Lobster poachers are feeling the pinch in Orange County..In the last two months wardens have investigated three cases involving the possession of significant lobster overlimits, with the majority of the lobsters undersize. In one case the suspect was convicted and is serving jail time for commercial sale of sport caught lobster. The two other cases are pending.

Poachers who profit from the sale of California's fisheries put the resource at risk, said Lt. Dan Sforza of DFG's Law Enforcement Division. Local lobster populations will suffer severe declines if poaching activity is left unchecked.

A "short" lobster that is smaller than the minimum size limit of 3 inches carapace length. Take of short lobsters depletes the stock. The following exemplify cases made every day by California game wardens:

On Feb. 2, David Frederick of Norwalk was sentenced to 33 days in jail for selling 22 undersize lobsters for $85. Witnesses at the scene stated he had sold lobsters there many times before. Frederick is currently serving jail time.

On Jan. 29, Sione Palalaika Akau of Bloomington was found in possession of 39 lobsters, 38 of which were undersize, intended for commercial sale. He also possessed undersize kelp bass and California sheephead. Akau was cited for eight violations.

On Dec. 13, a father and son duo from Dana Point were found in possession of 22 lobsters, 21 of which were undersize. They were cited for four violations each. Fortunately, the lobsters were healthy enough to be returned to the ocean.

Regulations regarding sport take of lobster are designed to allow lobster the chance to reproduce at least once during their lives before they can be taken by an angler. Possession of three times the daily limit of seven lobsters is prima facie evidence they are possessed for the purpose of commercial sale. In each of the above cases, the suspects were extremely uncooperative with investigating wardens and made every effort to keep the undersize lobsters hidden. Failure to show fish or game to a game warden on demand is a misdemeanor violation of the Fish and Game Code.

Regulations related to lobster fishing can be found on page 57 of the DFG Ocean Fishing Regulations booklet, available wherever sport fishing licenses are sold, at DFG offices, and online at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pdfs/oceanfish2009.pdf.

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