Five charged with poaching 132 lobsters in Redondo Beach
Wardens said they watched in the early morning hours of Sept. 29 as the men spent four hours with nets and bags, diving into the water along the King Harbor Jetty and pulling out lobsters of all sizes, said Patrick Foy, a warden with the California Dept. of Fish and Game.
When the men tried to drive off in a pickup truck about 2 a.m., game wardens stopped them and recovered 132 lobsters, many of them shorter than the size limit. Spiny lobster can not be legally harvested until Oct. 1, after which there is a bag limit of seven per person.
Arrested were Ramon Gonzalo Montes, 28; Omar De Leon Aguilar, 26, and Juan Manuel De Leon Haro, 34, all from Los Angeles and Augustin Granados, 67, and Ruben Flores, Jr.,38, both of South Gate.
All have pleaded not guilty to charges of gross overlimit of lobster and possession of lobster for commercial sale.
The men's gear was seized as evidence and the lobsters were returned to the ocean.
Game wardens have issued nearly 100 spiny lobster poaching citations in southern Los Angeles and Orange counties since the season opened Oct. 1, "but nowhere has the poaching pressure been greater than Redondo Beach," according to a statement by the Dept. of Fish and Game.
Officials said they were focusing patrols on the worst abusers--those taking lobsters regardless of size or limit--because they can depress entire local populations. The purpose of season and size restrictions is to give lobsters time to grow and reproduce before being harvested.
Photo: Gear seized and lobster recovered in the Sept. 29 poaching arrest of 5 Southern California men. Credit: California Dept. of Fish and Game.