California man sued for illegal crab fishing
A fisherman in the U.S. state of California is facing a civil lawsuit after allegedly fishing in the North Farallon Islands State Marine Reserve.
The lawsuit, filed Monday, 30 May, by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, cites evidence provided by the California State Department of Fish and Wildlife alleging Tam Van Tran of Vallejo, California, U.S.A., was fishing with more than 90 crab traps within the protected area, where fishing is prohibited.
Fishing near the Farallones Islands poses a threat to the rare ecosystem, the department said. The small islands are approximately 30 miles off San Francisco and are home to one of largest bird-nesting sites along the North American coast.
"Our officers received an anonymous tip from a commercial fisherman who said he saw another fisherman's crab traps in the marine protected area. He was concerned that this fisherman's illegal activities would put other law-abiding fisherman in a bad light," California Department of Fish and Wildlife Assistant Chief for Marine Enforcement District Eric Kord said, according to the Associated Press.
The traps were were traced back to Tran, a commercial fisherman, and his boat, the Pacific Mist. California Fish and Wildlife investigators said officers from the department released more than 250 Dungeness crabs from Tran’s illegal traps back into the ocean.
"This is a large-scale incident of unlawful take from a marine protected area, and we might not have known about it had another commercial fisherman not reported the illegal activity," Kord said.
Under California law, punishment is a misdemeanor for commercial fishing operations to work in protected areas. Tran faces a fine ranging from USD 5,000 (EUR 4,700) to USD 40,000 (EUR 37,500) for a first offense.
"This is the most-egregious case of unlawful crabbing activity in San Francisco's history, as well as the largest incident of unlawful commercial crabbing in any marine protected area in the entire state of California," the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office said.
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