LOBSTER POACHERS GET PINCHED

lobster bustIf you went out on opening day of the lobster season in Redondo Beach and came up empty, it may be because a group of lobster poachers cleaned out the area. At least they didn't get away with it!

California Game Wardens made several poaching busts in Redondo Beach, including one with suspects in possession of 132 lobsters.

"We are focusing our patrols on the worst abusers of our lobster resource to protect it for responsible users," said Assistant Chief Paul Hamdorf of the California Department of Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division. "We are successfully using a team patrol concept and will continue to seek out those who intentionally violate fishing and hunting laws."

With lobster season open and under way, wardens throughout Southern California are making numerous lobster poaching cases, but nowhere has the poaching pressure been greater than Redondo Beach.

On September 29, two nights prior to the lobster season opener, Wardens Michele Budish and Kory Collins observed five men poaching lobsters from the King Harbor Jetty. They observed the men for approximately four hours and ultimately contacted them at 2 a.m. as they drove away in their pickup. The five men possessed 132 lobsters, many of them were shorter than the size limit. All five subjects were arrested for gross overlimit of lobster and possession of lobster for commercial sale. They were booked into Redondo Beach Police Department jail, their gear was seized as evidence, and their vehicle was towed.

Arrested during the case were Ramon Gonzalo Montes, 28, Omar De Leon Aguilar, 26, and Juan Manuel De Leon Haro, 34, all from Los Angeles and Augustin Granados, 67, and Ruben Flores, Jr., 38, both of South Gate.

Budish and Collins returned to the King Harbor Jetty the same night and made four more lobster poaching cases totaling 13 additional poached lobsters before the morning sun came up. All lobsters from the night's cases were photographed as evidence and successfully returned to the ocean.

Recreational lobster fishing season opened October 1, 2011 and extends to March 21, 2012.

Lobster fishing regulations are found on pages 56-57 of the Ocean Sportfishing Regulations and are available online at: www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/sportfishing_regs2011.asp.

Lobster report cards are required for all anglers fishing for lobsters. The report card must be filled out prior to fishing for lobster, a common violation that has generated numerous warnings since the season opened, but will transition to citations soon. Data from the lobster report cards helps biologists closely monitor the health of the population. Lobster seasons and size limits were set to allow lobsters the opportunity to reproduce prior to being large enough to be retained by anglers, which takes about five to six years.