By Mary Callahan
Three San Franciscans caught last fall with a combined 59 red abalone on the Mendocino Coast have been hit with $20,000 in fines and sentenced to three years probation and 240 hours of community service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday.
Jinfu Wu, 43, Wei Q Wu, 27, and Jin He Li, 35, were arrested after undercover wildlife officers saw two of them diving for abalone Nov. 5 near the community of Elk and hiding shellfish as they brought them ashore, authorities said Tuesday.
The special enforcement team first spotted their 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.
The trio was grossly over the daily bag limit of three red abalone, and has since pleaded no contest to illegal poaching, fish and wildlife officials said.
They face permanent revocation of their fishing and hunting licenses and loss of the fishing gear seized by officers.