CDFW Officers Snag Diver off Catalina Island

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers cited a 46-year-old Ventura County man for using rubbing alcohol to force fish out of rocks and capturing them to sell. The diver was cited for two Fish and Game Code violations: use of chemical while collecting marine aquaria and unlawful take of marine aquaria at Catalina Island, which is prohibited by law.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On the afternoon of Nov. 13, officers from the patrol boat Thresher observed a large recreational sailboat with commercial fishing license numbers painted on the stern anchored in Emerald Bay on the northeast coast of Catalina Island. Officers boarded the boat and found a man sport fishing. The angler told the officers that his partner was SCUBA diving.

Officers entered the 62-degree water and observed a diver squirting a liquid (later determined to be rubbing alcohol) from a bottle into cracks of rocks. The liquid was forcing small fish, Blue Banded Goby (Lythrypnus dalli), into the open water where the man then caught them with a small aquarium fish net and immediately put them in a small plastic receptacle attached to his SCUBA gear. The warden used a mask and snorkel from just below the water’s surface to watch the diver squirt the bottle twice. The warden then dove down, showed the diver his warden identification, and directed the diver to come to the surface. Before ascending, the diver left one of his squirt bottles on the rocks and attempted to drop a small, mesh bag containing another squirt bottle. A warden retrieved both squirt bottles and the mesh bag.

Once on the sailboat, the suspect told the officers he was a licensed marine aquaria collector and his buyers were paying him $10 per fish.  He stated that he did not know it is illegal to use rubbing alcohol to catch the small fish, or that it is illegal to partake in marine aquaria collection operations off Santa Catalina Island.

The diver had 63 goby fish in the plastic receptacle attached to his gear. During the interview, officers saw another plastic sealed container underneath the boat. The second container was holding an additional 109 goby fish.  The fish were counted, photographed and returned to the sea.

The man’s dive gear was seized and charges will be filed with the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

The marine aquaria laws that protect Catalina Island prevent collectors from depleting local species around the island. Collecting marine aquaria from the ocean is legal with the proper permits.

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

copy_SECURE_IMG_20131113_150823_851

Southern California Man Charged in Commercial Fishing Violations

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law enforcement officials filed dozens of misdemeanor charges in October against a Southern California man, accusing him of violating a series of commercial fishing regulations.

Adam Crawford James, 32, of Winnetka is accused of multiple violations of the Fish and Game Code, including commercial take of lobster without a permit, commercial take of sea urchin without a permit, illegal take of nearshore fish without a permit, failure to complete and submit records of fish taken under a commercial license, the illegal take of several varieties of fish during the closed commercial season and several other serious charges.

During their investigation CDFW wildlife officers received information from the CalTIP hotline that James was attempting to sell commercially caught fish to restaurants without a Receiver’s License. In California, commercial fishermen are permitted to sell their catch directly to restaurants, provided they have a Receiver’s License and complete required documentation of the marine life that is taken.  This management tool helps to protect the resource, and ensure sustainable fisheries for years to come.

The investigation revealed that James appeared to be in violation of far more, when evidence of fishing during closed seasons, and taking species that required special permits began to surface.

“Most commercial fishermen are ethical and diligently follow the laws and regulations,” said CDFW Assistant Chief Dan Sforza. “Thanks to the information received from the CalTIP hotline and good, solid police work we were able to file charges.”

The charges were filed with the Santa Monica City Attorney’s office in Oct.

If convicted of these violations in court James could face jail time, fines, loss of his commercial fishing license, community service and other penalties. No court dates have been set.

CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide Fish and Wildlife with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters.

CalTIP was introduced in California in 1981 in order to give Californians an opportunity to help protect the state’s fish and wildlife resources. The toll free telephone number, (888) 334-2258 operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You do not have to give your name.

Media Contact:
Capt. Rebecca Hartman, CDFW Law Enforcement, (310) 678-4864
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Offshore Enforcement Active at Southern California Lobster Opener

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) marine officers contacted more than 400 anglers while patrolling Catalina, San Nicholas and the Santa Barbara islands during the recreational lobster season opener that started Sept. 28. During the opening weekend, CDFW wildlife officers issued 35 citations and 26 warnings.

Violations included undersize lobster, overlimit of lobster, lobster report card violations, fishing in a Marine Protected Area (MPA), violations of sheephead, lingcod and commercial sea cucumber regulations, no commercial fishing license and commercial lobster traps wired shut.

Due to the large amount of activity around the offshore islands in past years, CDFW officers deployed three department vessels, the Thresher, Coho and Swordfish, to enforce laws and regulations as well as public safety in the ocean miles off the California coast. Several significant cases were made during the opening weekend, including:

  • After receiving a CalTIP report officers inspected a commercial fishing site and found 14 of 16 lobster traps wired shut rather than open as regulations require. A formal complaint is pending with the District Attorney.
  • A wildlife officer rescued a diver in distress complaining of severe cramping in both legs. After the diver was towed back to his boat, he was found to be in possession of 10 lobsters, four of which were undersized. He was cited for an overlimit and released.
  • Officers observed a boat anchored on the border of the Blue Caverns MPA with one man aboard and a diver with a light swimming in the MPA. When an officer jumped into the water, the diver turned off his light and attempted to outswim the warden to the boat, where another officer was waiting for him to surface. The suspect said he was “only looking” and did not have any lobsters. A second warden entered the water and found the fleeing diver’s game bag with lobster in it. After a search of the boat and gear, the men were found to have 21 lobsters. They were cited for an overlimit, failure to show on demand and diving in a protected reserve.
  • A commercial lobster vessel was setting unbaited, open traps along the Palos Verdes coastline. One of the crew members was found to not have a commercial fishing license and was cited.
  • Officers boarded a 50-foot sport fishing vessel and found the captain operating an unlicensed charter boat operation and charging passengers $900 for the trip. The boat did not have a commercial registration or ocean enhancement stamps. A formal complaint is pending with the District Attorney.
  • At Santa Barbara Island, a diver attempted to distract officers with the classic “what’s that over there?” while trying to drop his dive bag. The warden put on his SCUBA equipment and retrieved the bag 60-feet below the surface. It was filled with nine lobsters, and the diver was cited for an overlimit.
  • While on patrol, the crew of the Swordfish heard a mayday distress call from a 45-foot sport boat less than a mile from their location. The boat was grounding on the rocks of Anacapa Island. They rushed to the scene and pulled the boat off the rocks. A man and his three teenage children were aboard and the boat had a dead battery.

California spiny lobsters are crustaceans that are common from Point Conception to Baja California. Lobster season is generally open from the first Saturday in October through about March 15 and is carefully monitored and regulated. California spiny lobsters are slow-growing animals that biologists estimate take as long as seven years to grow to legal size. Fishermen must have a valid California fishing license with an ocean stamp, a lobster report card and a lobster gauge to measure for proper size.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Capt. Rebecca Hartman, CDFW Law Enforcement, rebecca.hartman@wildlife.ca.gov

bugs

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,521 other followers