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Fishermen accused of poaching in Channel Islands sanctuary are fined $10,000


There has been lots of debate over how or whether penny-pinching California will be able enforce rules and regulations within an expanding network of marine-protected areas as part of the Marine Life Protection Act.

Meanwhile, federal authorities today issued a statement implying that poaching will not be tolerated in federally protected reserves.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the owners and operators of the commercial fishing vessel Risa Lynn will pay a $10,000 civil penalty as a settlement in an illegal-fishing case within a marine-protected area in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

The bust was made after a two-week federal and state operation in March 2008, during which officials said the fishermen were observed setting gear in the Footprint Marine Reserve, south of Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands. The reserve is one of several federally designated no-take fishing zones.

The California Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Coast Guard assisted in the operation.

"This case is a primary example of what can be achieved through cooperative law enforcement efforts to protect our nation's natural marine resources," said Don Masters, special agent in charge of NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement, southwest division.

The fishermen fined in the case were Shane and Jason Robinson of Santa Barbara and Joseph Campopiano of Morro Bay, Calif.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: East Anacapa Island. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.