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Fisherman Get Fed, Poachers Get Busted

I read the news every day. I search out articles about people being arrested almost as often. Sometimes what I find makes me sad, sometimes I find it interesting and sometimes I get downright mad. When I read yesterday about the three men in Ukiah who were caught with 59 abalone at their home, I was pleased as punch.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife were conducting surveillance on the men who illegally harvested the abalone with SCUBA gear. Officers followed the suspected poachers to their residence where they were found with the shelled abalone, scuba gear and their personal vehicle, all of which were confiscated by police.

The shame of this seizure is that those 59 abalone will likely be wasted and neither eaten, nor restored to the ocean for repopulation. Shame on you 35-year-old Jin He Li, 27-year-old Wei Q Wu and 43-year-old Jinfu Wu.

In California there are strict rules for catching abalone. First, everyone 16 or older needs a license. SCUBA gear cannot be used, nor can any type of boat. Generally this means you must free dive to catch your prey. Abalone gauges which measure the size must be in each fisherman’s possession as each angler must have an appropriate “ab iron” for safely removing the mollusks from the ocean floor. Abalone must remain in their shell and only three ab’s may be in each fisherman’s possession per day. There are numerous other regulations which are clearly posted and can be found on the State Department of Fish and Wildlife site.

Well done Department of Fish and Game! Keep up the good work.

It is of note that here in Ventura County there is a deputy district attorney dedicated solely to prosecuting fish and game offenses. Such offenses are often misdemeanors and sometimes felonies. Conviction can give rise to jail, stiff fines, loss of equipment and more.

Jeffrey S. Vallens, Attorney at law (888) 764-4340 or (818) 783-5700.