Tag Archives: abalone

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Final Poacher Sentenced from 2013 Abalone Sting Operation

After almost a year of court procedures, the last of 18 abalone poachers arrested in a 2013 sting has been sentenced. All 18 suspects were found guilty or pled no contest to the charges.

On Aug. 29, 2013, California wildlife officers simultaneously served 13 search/arrest warrants throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento on 18 suspected abalone poachers. The last of the 18, Dung Tri Bui of San Leandro, was recently found guilty in Mendocino County Superior Court after a week long jury trial. Bui was convicted of three misdemeanor counts, including take of abalone for commercial use, conspiracy to take abalone for commercial purposes and take of abalone greater than the daily limit. He was sentenced to 36 months summary probation, $15,000 fine and a lifetime ban on fishing (including the take of abalone). Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Daniel Madow presented the case.

In total, $139,883 in fines and 11 fishing license revocations were handed out to the 18 subjects. All of the subjects received summary probation ranging from one to three years. All seized dive gear was ordered forfeited by the court. Mendocino DDAs Heidi Larson and Tim Stoen and support staff also spent a tremendous amount of time on these cases along with numerous staff from the Sacramento District Attorney’s office.

“We had excellent support from the respective District Attorney’s offices for taking these crimes seriously and prosecuting the poachers to the full extent of the law,” said Asst. Chief Brian Naslund of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division. “The gear forfeiture, fines and lifetime fishing license revocations for California’s worst poaching offenders will hopefully put them out of the poaching business permanently.”

Poachers Charges Revoked Fine Probation
SF Bay Area
Khoa Dang Nguyen 5521.5 Life fish/hunt $15,000 36 months
Chinh Quan Le 5521.5 Life fish/hunt $15,000 36 months
Hung Vo 5521.5 Lifetime fishing $15,000 24 months
Toi Van Nguyen 5521.5 Life fish/hunt $15,000 24 months
Dung Tri Bui 5521.5, PC 182, 29.15[c] Lifetime fishing $15,000 36 months
Hai Van Ha 5521.5, PC 182, Lifetime abalone $1,353.50 24 months
Duoc Van Nguyen 5521.5, PC 182 Lifetime abalone $1,353.50 24 months
Andy Phan 2000/29.15 [c] Lifetime abalone $1,537 24 months
Charlie Le PC 182 No $1,420 24 months
Nhan Trung Le PC 182, 2000/29.15[c] No $1,888 24 months
Suong Hung Tran 29.15[c] No $1,771 24 months
Chuyen Van Bui 1052[f] No $1,303 24 months
Diep van Nguyen 2000/29.15[c] No $1,537 12 months
Khoa Ngoc Nguyen 29.16[b] No $1,420 12 months
Sacramento
Dung Van Nguyen 5521.5, PC 115 (a) (F) Lifetime fishing $15,000 32 mo State prison
Tho Thanh Phan 5521.5 Lifetime fishing $15,000 24 months
Hiep Ho 5521.5 Lifetime fishing $20,000 26 months
Hung Van Le 2000, 29.16(a) No $1,303 24 months

PC 115 Forgery of government documents
PC 182 Conspiracy to commit a crime
F&G Code 5521.5 Unlawful to take abalone for commercial purposes
F&G Code 2000 Unlawful possession of California’s fish and wildlife
F&G Code 1052 Unlawful use of another’s hunting/fishing license
Title 14 – 29.15 abalone overlimit
Title 14 – 29.16 abalone report card violations

The original press release announcing the bust can be found at
http://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/cdfw-officers-arrest-13-poaching-suspects-in-oakland-and-sacramento/.

The case was investigated by the CDFW Special Operations Unit, a specialized team of wildlife officers tasked with investigating illegal black market sales of California’s fish and wildlife resources.

Media Contact:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Public Input Sought at Red Abalone Fishery Management Workshops

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend a series of workshops kicking off the Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan development process. CDFW specifically seeks public opinion regarding red abalone fishery goals, priorities and management needs.

CDFW will also hold two pre-workshop open houses where the public can engage in informal discussions with fishery managers and biologists. Workshops will be held on Wed., Oct. 1 from 4-7 p.m. at the Central Santa Rosa Library, Central Forum Room, 211 E St., Santa Rosa (95404) and Thur., Oct 2 from 6-9 p.m. at the Marin Rod and Gun Club, 2675 East Francisco Blvd., San Rafael (94901).

An overview of current red abalone fishery information and the fishery management plan process will be presented at the meetings. The new fishery management plan will focus on the northern California sport fishery and also serve to update the current Abalone Recovery and Management Plan.

CDFW received valuable insight from the first two public workshops in Sacramento and Fort Bragg. These workshops are the initial steps of a multi-year process that will include further opportunities for public comment. The success of this fishery management plan process largely depends on the continued involvement of the recreational abalone fishing community as well as the general public. For more information about public participation in this process and to view the workshop agenda, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/redabalonefmp.

Media Contacts:
Jerry Kashiwada, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 964-5791
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Red Abalone Fishery Management Plan Public Workshops to be Held

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is beginning the process of developing a red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The purpose of developing an FMP for the California red abalone fishery is to further refine and implement the long term management objectives outlined in the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan and meet the tenents of the Marine Life Management Act. The initial phase of the FMP will be focused on the northern California sport fishery and will begin with the four public workshops detailed below:

abalone shell with varying, non-parallel stripes of red, orange, to cream colors
Red abalone. Kon Karpov photo

Thursday, Sept.  18
7-9 p.m.
CDFW Fisheries Branch
830 S St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

 Friday, Sept. 19
7-9 p.m.
Russian Gulch State Park Recreation Hall
12301 North Highway 1
Mendocino, CA 95460

Wednesday, Oct. 1
5-7 p.m.
Central Santa Rosa Library
Central Forum Room
211 E St.
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Thursday, Oct. 2
7-9 p.m.
Marin Rod and Gun Club
2675 East Francisco Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94902

The success of this FMP process largely depends on the continued involvement of the recreational abalone fishing community as well as the general public. For more information on participation in this process and to view the workshop agenda, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/redabalonefmp/.

Media Contacts:
Pete Kalvass, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 964-9080
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

CDFW Conducts Successful Abalone Checkpoint on the Sonoma County Coast

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers contacted more than 650 abalone divers at a wildlife checkpoint operation north of Jenner on Sunday, May 18. Checkpoints are an effective tool for wardens, who seek to promote safety, education and compliance with law and regulations through education, preventative patrol and enforcement.

All vehicles traveling south on Highway 1 in Sonoma County were screened at the checkpoint. Screening consisted of an introduction and brief questions. Approximately 260 vehicles were directed into the inspection area. Wildlife officers issued 31 citations and several dozen warnings. Violations included overlimits of abalone, undersize abalone, report card violations and alterations, abalone not tagged, abalone meat out of the shell, short fish and several other Fish and Game Code violations.

One diver attempted to throw a tagged but undersized abalone into nearby bushes, but instead threw it into a warden’s truck bed. The loud clanking alerted officers to the attempt.

Media Contact:
Capt. Steve Riske, CDFW Law Enforcement, (707) 838-6930
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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CDFW Coastal Wardens to Conduct Wildlife Checkpoint

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be conducting a wildlife checkpoint operation to promote safety, education and compliance with law and regulations.

CDFW law enforcement division will be conducting the inspection on Highway 1, south of Fort Bragg, May 18, 2014, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The wildlife checkpoint is being conducted to protect and conserve fish and wildlife, and to encourage safety and sportsmanship by promoting voluntary compliance with laws, rules and regulations through education, preventative patrol and enforcement.

Abalone enforcement has been one of the top priorities for CDFW for the past several years and have strict size and take limits to protect the resource.

Media Contacts:              
Tiffany Stinson, CDFW Law Enforcement, (707) 824-1260
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Officers Arrest 13 Poaching Suspects in Oakland and Sacramento

Abalone shellsMedia Contacts:
Sacramento Media: Warden Mark Michilizzi, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 996-9003
Bay Area Media: Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

Based on an intensive investigation dubbed Operation Oakland Abalone Syndicate, California game wardens arrested 13 suspects in Oakland and Sacramento for harvesting sport caught abalone and possession for commercial sale. It is illegal to harvest wild abalone for commercial sale anywhere in California.

Suspects arrested were Chinh Quan Le, 60, Khoa Dang Nguyen, 40, Hung Ngoc Quoc Vo, 41 and Toi Van Nguyen, 48. All four men are from Oakland and all four had previous abalone poaching convictions. In addition, wardens arrested Hai Van Ha, 43, Duoc Van Nguyen, 48 and Nhan Trong Le, 46, all also of Oakland, and Andy Phan, 47, of Fairfield and Charlie Le, 55, of Alameda. In Sacramento officers arrested Dung Van Nguyen, 40, Hiep Ho, 46, Hung Van Le, 42 and Tho Than Phan, 59.

“Unless it is stopped, poaching will degrade California’s abalone population over time,” said CDFW’s Capt. David Bess. “It ultimately affects the honest, sport abalone harvesters who follow the laws.”
Based upon surveillance, game wardens allege the men conspired to profit from the sale of abalone with a black market network of buyers in the Bay Area and Sacramento.

Game wardens wish to express appreciation for the honest abalone divers’ patience with abalone report card requirements and abalone checkpoints. Both were an integral part of the investigation. The suspects face charges ranging from felony conspiracy to multiple poaching-related violations.

CDFW Officers Cite Two for Abalone Poaching in Marine Protected Area

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens cited two Southern California men for illegally taking Abalone from the Marine Protected Area (MPA) near Laguna Beach recently.

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CDFW wildlife officers observed Juni Pong, 47, from El Monte and Kuan Yee, 47, from Yorba Linda, entering the ocean at Moss Cove in Laguna Beach in full SCUBA gear. After more than an hour of diving the two men returned to the beach and were met by an officer who found two green abalone in each of the men’s diving gear.

Both suspects were cited for possession of abalone and take of fish inside a marine protected area, both potential misdemeanor violations, and then released. The abalone were photographed for evidence and returned to the sea, the men’s diving equipment was confiscated and impounded as evidence.

Abalone may only be taken north of San Francisco Bay during prescribed seasons. For complete ocean fishing regulations see http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/

The case will be forwarded to the Orange County District Attorney’s office for prosecution.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Eric Kord, CDFW Enforcement, (858) 538-6017
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

 

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Abalone Poachers Sentenced to Probation, Community Service, Fined and Lose Gear

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has noted an apparent increase in abalone poaching in Southern California waters. Potential abalone poachers and the general public should be aware wardens are on the lookout and penalties for illegally taking abalone can be stiff.

Two Southern California men recently pleaded no contest to misdemeanor Fish and Game Code violations in Los Angeles Superior Court. They were each ordered to:

  • Serve three years’ probation;
  • Pay a $2,405 fine;
  • Pay an additional $1,000 fine to the Department of Fish and Wildlife to be used to implement wildlife preservation policies;
  • Successfully complete a 3- to 5-unit marine biology course at a local college;
  • Serve 40 hours of community service, and
  • Forfeit diving and fishing gear.

Curatola abalone-knife

Wade Anthony Curtatola of Rancho Cucamonga was diving off Catalina Island on Sept. 29, 2012, the opening day of lobster season. With no other boats in the area a warden went into the water near where Curtatola surfaced behind a boat and found a spear gun and game bag filled with a horn shark, four abalone and 13 lobster tails in 30 feet of water. Samples of genetic materials taken from Curtatola’s equipment matched the species found in the dive bag. Curtatola pleaded to misdemeanor counts of taking abalone in a closed area, over-limit of lobster and possession of tailed lobster.

“All it takes is one drop of blood, or a few cells from an animal to make positive identifications of illegally taken species,” said Lt. Eric Kord, CDFW Law Enforcement. “CDFW and our partners are using the latest tools and technology to help protect California’s resources.”

Bruce Allen Boyd of Oceanside was fishing off Catalina Island the same day, Sept. 29, when wildlife officers boarded his boat for an inspection. Wildlife officers found a dive bag with a large abalone concealed in a trash can. The abalone was photographed and returned to the ocean. Boyd was charged with one violation and pleaded to a misdemeanor count of taking abalone in a closed area.

It has been illegal to take abalone since 1997 in the southern half of the state (San Francisco Bay south to Mexican border) due to over fishing, disease and sea otter predation.

“We have seen a pretty sharp rise in abalone poaching here in Southern California over the last 18 months or so,” said Kord. “Most anglers are responsible fishermen and know the laws; the enforcement is to protect resources from the rest.”

Illegally taking abalone has some of the highest penalties in the Fish and Game Code, and can include of up to a year in jail, fines in the thousands of dollars, permanent loss of fishing licenses and confiscation of fishing and diving gear.

 

Media Contacts:
Lt. Eric Kord, CDFW Law Enforcement, (858) 538-6017
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Abalone Poacher Sentenced in Mendocino County

Media Contact: Warden Mark Michilizzi, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 651-2084

A Rohnert Park man was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined $5,000 for the unlawful commercial take of 20 abalone.

A Mendocino County Superior Court judge also imposed a lifetime fishing ban on Jason McMillen, 30.

On June 23, 2012, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers investigated reports of a large unattended bag filled with abalone. The bag, which held 17 red abalone, was located in shallow waters along the Mendocino coastline south of Hare Creek.

Wildlife officers waited for McMillen, who returned to the area and retrieved the bag of abalone the following day. The investigation revealed McMillen had unlawfully taken 20 abalone with the intent of selling them.

California regulations prohibit an individual from taking more than three abalone per day or possessing more than three abalone at any one time.  Pursuant to the Fish and Game Code, the possession of more than 12 abalone is prima facie evidence that a person possesses the abalone for commercial purposes.

Reports from concerned members of the public along with prosecution efforts from the Mendocino County District Attorneys Office and penalties placed by the Mendocino County Superior Court have been fundamental in protecting this precious resource.

Anglers and Divers Can Now Report Harvest Results Online

Anglers and divers can now go online to more easily submit their abalone, lobster, salmon, steelhead and sturgeon report cards required by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). These report cards provide important harvest data critical to helping fishery scientists better manage these fishing programs.

Reporting requirements for anglers and divers have not changed, but this online submission option makes the reporting faster and easier. By providing harvest details more quickly, fisheries managers can more promptly put the information to use.

Standard mail reporting is still available and can be done through the address printed on the report card.

To report online, just go to CDFW’s Online License Service (www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols/) page and search for your profile by entering your last name, date of birth and ID Number, which can be a driver’s license number, a GO ID or other form of identification. When the system finds an exact match, it automatically logs the user on to their profile, where he or she can purchase a license or complete a harvest report card.

Confirmation numbers will be provided to those who report online, so there will be no need to mail in the report card. Write the number on the report card and retain it for 90 days for survey purposes. Once a report card has been reported, it is no longer valid.

Please note: The law requires sport fishing report cards be submitted by January 31 even if divers and angers were unsuccessful or did not fish at all. Please refer to your report card for specific reporting requirements. For additional information on harvest reporting requirements, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/harvestreporting/.

Details on specific species and reporting availability online are listed below.

Requirements for online reporting
Complete data is required and must be completed within 20 minutes to avoid a system time out.

Sport fishing report cards may be reported online only after the last day of the report card’s validity. All entries on the report card must be entered onto the electronic form, including activity where no catches were made.

Reporting Availability – You may submit your information online for items below beginning on the specified date. Only the data from 2012 report cards and beyond may be submitted online.

Dec. 1, 2012
Abalone Report Card

Jan. 1, 2013
North Coast Salmon Report Card
Spiny Lobster Report Card
Steelhead Report Card
Sturgeon Fishing Report Card

Fishing harvest and effort data is essential to help scientists better manage these fisheries, which is why anglers are required by regulation to submit sport fishing report cards in a timely manner.

Contacts:
Glenn Underwood, License Program Analyst, (916) 928-6882
Carrie Wilson, Environmental Scientist, (831) 649-7191