Poachers Fined for Illegally Taking Abalone in Southern California

Poachers Fined for Illegally Taking Abalone in Southern California
Poachers Fined for Illegally Taking Abalone in Southern California
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

San Francisco, CA -(Ammoland.com)- Two Southern California men have been convicted and fined for abalone poaching and other resource crimes, stemming from a September 2015 California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) enforcement case.

CDFW wildlife officers assigned to the patrol boat Thresherdiscovered the two men poaching abalone at Catalina Island. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office subsequently prosecuted both individuals.

Hee Won Chai, 75, of Los Angeles was charged with taking and possessing six pink abalone. Chai pleaded no contest to all six poaching counts. He was ordered by the court to pay $61,626 in fines and penalties, and $1,000 to the CDFW Preservation Fund. Additionally all of his SCUBA equipment was forfeited by the court and his fishing privileges permanently revoked.

Jin Chai Jeong, 58, of Garden Grove was charged with taking and possessing two pink abalone, three green abalone and four spiny lobsters out of season, as well as attempting to destroy evidence. Jeong pleaded no contest to all of the abalone and lobster charges. He was also ordered by the court to pay $61,626 in fines and penalties and $1,000 to the CDFW Preservation Fund, and his SCUBA gear was forfeited by the court and his fishing privileges permanently revoked.

“An extraordinary amount of time and effort is invested in helping the Southern California abalone populations rebound, including the sacrifice of honest abalone harvesters who cannot currently fish for abalone south of San Francisco,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Asst. Chief Mike Stefanak. “Years ago, abalone poaching laws were significantly strengthened as part of the overall recovery plan to protect California’s abalone populations, but even so, we’ve seen an increase in poaching crimes. Once we find the offenders, we rely on the diligence of the District Attorneys’ offices and the courts to ensure that justice is served. Successful prosecutions such as these will hopefully serve as a deterrent for anyone considering committing these crimes against the environment.”

Warden Rob Rojas and Warden Jon Holemo work together to recover a game bag the suspected poachers attempted to discard.
Warden Rob Rojas and Warden Jon Holemo work together to recover a game bag the suspected poachers attempted to discard.

All of California’s abalone species are struggling, including two that are federally listed as endangered. Disease, predation, slow reproduction and poaching have necessitated a moratorium on abalone harvest south of San Francisco Bay since 1997. Red abalone populations north of San Francisco are the only populations stable enough to support very limited recreational harvest.

Anyone who believes they are witness to unlawful hunting, fishing or pollution is encouraged to call CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program, at (888) 334-2258 or send a text to tip411. Both methods allow the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information to assist with investigations.

Callers may remain anonymous, if desired, and a reward can result from successful capture and prosecution.

About the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW):

The Mission of the Department of Fish and Wildlife is to manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.

For more information, visit: www.wildlife.ca.gov.

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Jim in Conroe
Jim in Conroe
5 years ago

When I lived in San Diego in the early ’70’s, it was legal and possible to take abalone on SCUBA in La Jolla Cove and elsewhere along the coast north of San Diego. At that time, there were few SCUBA divers and abalone was a rare and not much sought after shellfish – you couldn’t buy it in the store. With advances in SCUBA technology, the relaxation of qualification standards, and the subsequent proliferation of people diving to harvest abalone, I am not surprised that they became endangered. They basically cling to a rock; they don’t hide and they can’t… Read more »

Colonialgirl
Colonialgirl
5 years ago

My parents were once out at the Salton Sea when it was still viable and observed a group of people with an ethnic background similar to the perps who were taking ANY and Everything no matter the size INCLUDING polliwogs and minnows. Nothing but a bunch of scavengers.

KSM
KSM
5 years ago

It would be nice to include pictures or explanation as to what a Abalone is!!!!!!!

Jim in Conore
Jim in Conore
5 years ago
Reply to  KSM

If you haven’t looked it up yet, here is a link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abalone. Googling will get you a lot more, including videos of how to prepare them, should you ever be fortunate enough to find one, legally, in the wild.

SuperG
SuperG
5 years ago

It would be interesting to track these guys and see if they ever pay.