Fisherman Admits Poaching, Shooting Sea Lion

Two San Diego boat captains were at the heart of an international incident.

Nathan Lee, 36, of the ship Two Captains, and Scott Hawkins, 49, of the Jody H, both pleaded guilty to illegally fishing in Mexican waters. According to investigators, the men piloted their boats more than 100 miles into Mexican waters on June 13, and both caught about 800 pounds of albacore tuna without permits before returning to the U.S. with the fish aboard. Both captains admitted they had navigational equipment on their watercraft that was "capable of advising them of their location."

Lee also admitted to officials that during the same trip, he used a rifle to shoot a sea lion, in violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The sea lion was shot near San Clemente Island.

Officials in United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy's office said Lee was warned in 2008 that fishing for albacore in Mexico without permits was illegal.

Commercial fishing of albacore is regulated by international treaties and U.S. law, officials said, including the Lacey Act, which makes it unlawful to import, transport or sell any fish or wildlife taken in violation of foreign law.

Both men were sentenced to probation and a fine of $500.

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