Abalone poachers catch abalone, jail, and heavy fines

The Mendocino County District attorney hit three abalone poachers from Fort Bragg, Sacramento and the Bay areas with major fines and other penalties.

The Mendocino District attorney settled three abalone poaching cases involving big-time abalone poachers and the owners of seafood restaurants in the areas of Fort Bragg, Sacramento, and in the Bay area.

Steven Yuan Qin Liang, 47, of Fort Bragg entered a plea of guilty to felony conspiracy charges involving the purchase and sale of sport-caught abalone for personal profit. Liang is the owner of the restaurant ‘Asian Buffet ‘ in Fort Bragg.

He bought himself 360 days in Mendocino County Jail, was placed on probation for 36 months and has to pay a fine of$ 15,000 for his offenses. Furthermore, he will not be able to obtain a commercial or sport fishing license for life.

abalone poachers

Poached abalone Liang

The second defendant, Bryant Chiu Shiu Lee, 44, of Sacramento, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of purchasing abalone for black market sale. Lee owns the Sushi Cafe in Sacramento. He received 36 months of probation and was ordered to pay a fine of $ 40,000. Lee will also not be allowed to acquire a sport or commercial fishing license for life.

abalone poachers

Abalone Lee

Both defendants, Liang and Lee, were convicted in late 2017 at the end of an investigation by the CDFW Special Operations Unit and the Mendocino Coast squad. This investigation started in June of 2015. 

This case of abalone poachers looks suspiciously like many of the other poaching cases published here. There is definitely a pattern linked among others to ethnic groups.

The third case, involves defendant Justin Joseph Adams, 44, of Alameda and some strange circumstances that made rescuers suspicious. The ensuing investigation finally resulted in the conviction of Adams. He was charged with conspiracy and the taking of abalone for sale on the black market.

In exchange, he received 210 days in Mendocino County jail, probation for 36 months and a fine of $ 15,000. In addition, he will not be allowed to obtain a sport or commercial fishing license for life.

His offense and conviction are not without some comical aspects. In early 2017 the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, the Elk Volunteer Fire Department, and the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department rescued a stranded diver from the headland’s just north of Cuffy’s Cove in Elk. The circumstances surrounding his rescue necessary looked suspicious to the rescuers. Consequently, they informed CDFW wildlife officers of it.

On the day following the strange rescue, CDFW wildlife officers swam to the rescue spot to look for signs of poaching. And indeed, just where Adams had been rescued they found two bags containing 38 abalones. They also retrieved a bottle of drinking water that still held water. The officers obtained a search warrant and collected a DNA sample from Adams. The DNA sample linked Adams to the bottle of drinking water.

A friend of Adams had dropped him off earlier at a  steep cliff near Cuffy’s Cove at low tide. When the water returned, Adams was cut off from the access point to the headlands and failed to appear in time at a prearranged pick-up spot. The friend then filed a missing person report. Rescuers found Adams at about 2 a.m. and rescued him. However, the circumstances appeared strange enough to justify an investigation. It resulted in the above of Adams.

Watch the video CDFW wildlife officers took as evidence of abalone poaching.

Readers of the California Hunting Post are already familiar with my position regarding poaching in general.

If not, read my above article. My opinion has not changed. However, the case involving these abalone poachers is the worst because the three perpetrators did not poach abalone for their own consumption alone. They poached or purchased abalone on the black market for use in their businesses. This increases the long-term damage to abalone populations considerably.

Scofflaws like these poachers should not be allowed to stay in the United States.


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Publisher and Editor in Chief at United Seabears
Peter Jaeckle is the publisher and Chief Editor of the California Hunting Post.You can find him also on Google+,Twitter, Facebook and on many other sites. Over the past decades he has written on investments, dogs and dog rescue, economic and on environmental topics.

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