The abalone populations on the north coast have had some challenges in recent years, including a large die-off event that happened in 2011 which closed some areas of the coast. While regulations have recently been tightened once again for those who harvest abalone legally, poachers remain a considerable problem. It’s been estimated that the illegal take of abalone off the north coast exceeds the legal take of about 250,000 abalone a year.
In a final resolution to one of the more recent incidents, three San Francisco residents were sentenced for poaching abalone last fall.
The CDFW Special Operations Unit first spotted a suspect van (with someone waiting inside) and deemed it suspicious, the agency said. As the officers watched, they saw two divers make repeated trips into the water, concealing their catch onshore before all three left in the van. Wildlife officers later paid a visit at their San Francisco residence and arrested all three for conspiracy to illegally harvest abalone, combined possession of a gross overlimit of abalone, and removing all of the abalone from their shells.
Jinfu Wu, 43, Wei Q Wu, 27, and Jin He Li, 35, were arrested and had their gear seized. Upon inspection, it was discovered that they took a total of 59 red abalone, far exceeding the legal limit of 3 in possession each. They have been fined $20,000, sentenced to three years of probation, and must serve 240 hours of community service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday. They also face permanent revocation of their fishing and hunting licenses and loss of the fishing gear that was seized by officers.
In another 2014 case, Dung Van Nguyen, 41, of Sacramento was charged with poaching abalone along the Mendocino coast and selling them for personal profit. On Sept. 11, he appeared in the Mendocino County Superior Court and pled guilty to one felony count of forging an abalone report card and one misdemeanor count of taking abalone for commercial purposes.Nguyen is a repeat offender with multiple convictions for similar poaching crimes. The conditions of his sentence includes 32 months in state prison, a fine of $15,000 and a lifetime revocation of his fishing license.
Abalone is a prized resource in California and seasons and limits are highly regulated to protect the resource. For complete information on abalone fishing and regulations, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/abalone.asp.
The CDFW Special Operations Unit is a team of undercover wildlife officers who specialize in investigation of persons suspected of selling California’s fish and wildlife on the black market. CDFW appreciates the effort of the vast majority of abalone divers who comply with the regulations, particularly the use of the abalone report card (which was an integral part of successful prosecution in this case). Their cooperation helps to keep the fishery healthy and sustainable for future generations.
To report a poacher, call 1-888-334-CalTIP (888-334-2258). Photos, license plate numbers, and other documentation may also be helpful for apprehending suspects.
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Below: It took almost a year of court procedures, but the last of 18 abalone poachers arrested in a 2013 sting were finally sentenced in October 2014. Here who was charged and their penalties. More....