San Diego

Experts Warn of Illegal Poaching Happening Off the Coast of La Jolla and Pacific Beach

CA Fish and Wildlife says they will be cracking down on local poachers

There has been an increase of illegal poaching in La Jolla, Bird Rock and Pacific Beach, experts said. 

Conservationists said Tuesday illegal poaching for crustaceans, like lobsters, and fish, like sea bass, has been occurring at alarming rates in the area.

But people might not know that what they are doing is illegal. Many are not aware that there are only certain places off-shore where it is okay to fish and catch sea life in the state. 

"This area is one of 11 marine protected areas in San Diego County," said Zach Plopper, director of Wildcoast Conservation.

Plopper said the protected area is from Diamond Street in Pacific Beach to Palomar Avenue in La Jolla and one mile out to sea. 

"In this reserve, any take of living or non-living marine resource is illegal," said Plopper. "Even sand and other resources like rocks. All that stuff is very important to the marine habitat. It's important we protect every aspect of that." 

Governor Jerry Brown passed legislation in August to crack down on illegal poaching. CA Fish and Wildlife, along with Wildcoast Conservation and other agencies are now implementing those rules.  

"This area is really the epicenter of this problem in California and poaching is increasing," said Plopper.  

Enforcers will be looking for anyone in the reserve area with spears, nets and other fishing gear. Boats in the reserve will also be monitored to make sure fishing is not happening off them. 

Any person caught with illegally poached animals could face up to a $1,000 fine per animal and possible jail time. Activists are trying to make it up to a $40,000 for a first time offense. 

Anyone who sees signs of potential illegal poaching is encouraged to call the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

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