|Abalone and Lobster Poaching Cases|
Posted by Max Bottomtime on October 07, 2015 at 20:51:47:|
By California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Over the Sept. 26 weekend, wildlife officers on the patrol boat Thresher cited three recreational divers for poaching off Catalina Island.
The first citation occurred Saturday when officers made contact with a diver on a sailboat near the Howland’s Landing camp. They found him to be in possession of two green abalone, a spiny lobster and an undersized kelp bass. This area is part of a State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), where no invertebrates may be taken. The diver’s gear was seized and he was cited for take of abalone, take of spiny lobster out of season, take of an undersized kelp bass and take of invertebrates in an SMCA.
Sunday, officers contacted two scuba divers on a vessel. After speaking with the first diver on the boat, enforcement staff found six live abalone in a refrigerator. Officers then dove into the water with dive gear and observed the second diver putting an abalone in his bag. After wildlife officers identified themselves using a dive slate, the second diver then attempted to hide his bag under a rock.
One diver was cited for take of abalone and the second diver was cited for take of abalone, take of a lobster out of season and attempting to destroy evidence. All of their catch and dive gear were seized. In all, the two divers were in possession of 11 abalone: eight pink and three green. Pink abalone are more rare than green. This is the most significant pink abalone arrest in over 17 years. Fortunately, most of the abalone were still alive and the officers were able to reattach them to the reef. Unfortunately, three were cut badly from the poachers’ tools and could not be saved.
If convicted, all of the men cited for take of an abalone could face a minimum fine of $15,000 for each offense. For the lobster and other poaching, the men could face up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail for each offense.
Since 1997, a moratorium has been imposed on the taking of any abalone south of San Francisco Bay. The open season for California spiny lobster for recreational fishermen is Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015 through Wednesday, March 16, 2016. It is essential for divers and fishermen to obey the season closures for the lobster fishery as most females will carry thousands of eggs at this time.
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