Byline: Dan Lancaster
For some crimes, the punishment just doesn’t seem big enough. I’m talking about massive incidents of poaching, such as the one covered in the Nov. 11-24 issue of The Log Newspaper: “Poachers Nabbed with 132 Lobsters at King Harbor Jetty.”
This is not a case of a poor person who went fishing without a license and brought home something for dinner. Nor is it the case of someone who was uninformed and reeled in something he didn’t have a special permit to catch.
This is a brazen incident of a group of people who conspired to illegally take an unbelievably huge quantity of a species, take numerous undersized ones and, on top of everything else, take them out of season. And whatever fine they receive or slap-on-the-hand criminal penalty they get, it just won’t be enough to pay for the damage they have done to the reputation of conscientious Southern California sport anglers.
Many environmental activists don’t believe this, but 99.9 percent of Southern California sport anglers are conservationists who care deeply about the continued health of sport fish populations. After all, we want to be able to continue catching fish for many years to come.
We strictly adhere to fishing seasons, species take restrictions, catch limits and catch size requirements. We read all the Department of Fish and Game regulations and follow them to the letter — and we don’t fish in restricted areas or fish using any methods other than the ones prescribed by state fishing authorities. And many of us belong to fishing organizations that are involved in sportfishing enhancement projects, such as raising and releasing young white seabass to improve local fish populations.
But all it takes is one incident of a poacher — such as these guys taking 132 lobsters by any means possible on one very destructive night of “fishing” — to make the average person listening to TV news or reading the paper think that all fishermen must be out there mass-killing fish and other sea life.
Is it any wonder that these uninformed folks think fishing must be stopped by any means necessary — including closing the most productive fishing areas on the coast with new Marine Protected Areas?
I say, throw these poachers in prison, and throw away the key.
Rancho Palos Verdes