Two poachers fined more than $120,000 for illegally taking abalone off Catalina

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.

Hee Won Chai, 75, of Los Angeles, and Jin Chai Jeong, 58, of Garden Grove, pleaded no contest to charges of taking and possessing a total of eight pink abalone, three green abalone and four spiny lobsters out of season.

CDFW officers assigned to the patrol boat Thresher discovered the two men poaching abalone at Catalina Island.

Both men were ordered to pay $61,626 in fines and penalties and to donate $1,000 to the CDFW Preservation fund. Additionally, their scuba gear was forfeited and 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.

Anyone who believes they are witness to unlawful hunting, fishing or pollution is encouraged to call the department’s tip line at 888-334-2258 or send a text to tip411. Both methods allow for anonymity and may result in a reward for successful arrest and prosecution.

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