Apparently fishing in a state marine reserve is no light matter.
A commercial crabber got slammed recently with a $10,000 fine, 20 hours of community service, and five days in jail after setting down traps in the Stewarts Point Marine Conservation Area in Sonoma County.
California Fish and Wildlife officers caught the fisherman, Steven Anello of Bodega Bay, lowering 100 Dungeness crab traps into protected waters over the course of five days last April. The traps were not outfitted with escape devices that would have allowed crabs to get away if the trap was lost or not raised, another violation of the fish and game code.
“If it doesn’t have an escape device on it, they all die and then they attract other crabs and they die and this goes on for years,” said Department of Fish & Wildlife warden Mark Michilizzi.
Such cases get prosecuted locally, so it’s difficult to track how significant Anello’s penalty is compared to others, Michilizzi said. Fish & Wildlife officers were able to pull up 23 crab traps from water.
Anello pled no contest, and was sentenced to 36 months of informal probation and forfeiture of the proceeds from his catch, in addition to the other penalties. He was also ordered to stay out of the Stewarts Point State Marine Reserve during his probationary period.
Will other fishing cheats take notice?
“I think it can be a deterrent, sure,” said Michilizzi. “But there’s some people who it may not be.”
He said people who are making good money stealing from state resources may just factor $10,000 into the cost of doing business.
Alison Hawkes is the online editor for Bay Nature.