Two abalone poachers were convicted of poaching abalone and lobsters in waters off Catalina Island. The poachers took eight pink, three green abalones, and four spiny lobster illegally.
In September of 2015, wildlife officers on the CDFW patrol vessel Thresher found two men poaching abalone at Catalina Island. The Los Angeles County District attorney subsequently charged the abalone poachers with illegally taking and possessing abalone and the four spiny lobster.
Currently, fishermen cannot take abalone south of San Francisco.
A day in court
CDFW charged Hee Won Chai, 75, Los Angeles, with taking and possessing six pink abalones. He pleaded no contest to the six charges of taking pink abalone.
Game warden retrieving game bag (CDFW)
The court ordered him to pay $61,626 in fines and penalties. In addition, the court ordered an extra fine in the amount of $1,000, payable to the CDFW Preservation Fund.
Furthermore, he forfeited his Scuba equipment and lost his fishing privileges permanently.
His companion, Jin Chai Jeong, 58, of Garden Grove faced charges of possessing two pink abalones, three green abalones, and four spiny lobster. Jeong took the lobster out of season. Moreover, Jeong also faced an additional charge of attempting to destroy evidence.
Jin Chai Jeong also pleaded no contest in court. The court ordered $61,626 in fines and penalties. Additionally, Jeong also has to pay $1,000 to the CDFW Preservation Fund. And he forfeited his Scuba gear, of course. He also permanently lost his fishing privileges.
Fishing gear is expensive. To collect abalone you need diving gear most of the time. Scuba gear easily goes for around $ 1,000 for a rather basic type. Yet, fancier models are much more expensive. See what fishing gear costs and check out the latest models and prices.
Nevertheless, in my humble opinion, the two abalone poachers should have lost their yacht as well. As long as the two own their power boat, they will recruit other like-minded people to continue in their poaching ways. That’s a reasonable assumption.
The California Hunting Post reported on other similar poaching incidents.
A politically incorrect statement
It appears that poaching of seafood runs rampant in certain ethnic groups. This statement is not politically correct, you say?
I do not care.
Law-abiding fishermen in southern California sacrifice their enjoyment of fishing for certain sea life to preserve or strengthen a species. Do we really need foreign abalone poachers to steal it from us?
They abuse their privilege of living in this country by stealing our citizens’ protected wildlife.
These guys most likely also poach deer, hogs, elk, and any other wildlife to sell for profit. Maybe that is how they got the yacht. It most likely worth a couple hundred thousands of dollars.
Work with CalTip and get the poachers
If you dislike poachers as much as I do, call CalTIP at (888) 334-2258 or send a text message to tip411 when you witness a poaching incident, at sea or on land.
CalTip is the secret witness program of CDFW, You can remain anonymous. Nevertheless, if your information results in a successful capture and prosecution of the perpetrators, you may even receive a reward.
Abalones are in trouble. Red abalones north of San Francisco are the exception. Their populations support limited harvests.
Disease, slow reproduction, and poaching forced a ban on all abalone fishing south San Francisco in 1997. The federal list of endangered species shows two abalone species.
Says CDFW Law Enforcement Assistant Chief Mike Stefanak:
“An extraordinary amount of time and effort is invested in helping the Southern California abalone populations rebound, including the sacrifice of honest abalone harvesters who cannot currently fish for abalone south of San Francisco.
Years ago, abalone poaching laws were significantly strengthened as part of the overall recovery plan to protect California’s abalone populations, but even so, we’ve seen an increase in poaching crimes. Once we find the offenders, we rely on the diligence of the District Attorneys’ offices and the courts to ensure that justice is served.”
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