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Undersize lobster poaching cases on the rise in Orange County

March 1, 2010 |  3:43 pm

Legal-sized lobster caught after a day of fishing aboard lobster boat Arlene M along the Ventura County coast. California Department of Fish and Game wardens have been dealing with a spate of lobster poaching cases in Orange County recently, all of which involved undersized crustaceans.

On Dec. 13, a father and son from Dana Point were caught with 22 lobsters, 21 of which were undersized.

On Jan. 29, a Bloomington resident was found in possession of 39 lobsters, 38 of which were undersized.

On Feb. 2, David Frederick of Norwalk was sentenced to 33 days in jail for selling 22 undersized lobsters for $85. Witnesses at the scene told wardens that Frederick had sold lobsters at the same location in the past.

The legal limit is seven lobsters per person, with a minimum size limit of 3 1/4-inch carapace length. Anything smaller than this is undersized, or "short."

These regulations are in place in an effort to allow lobster the chance to reproduce at least once before they grow large enough to be taken.

"Poachers who profit from the sale of California's fisheries put the resource at risk," said Dan Sforza, a lieutenant with Fish and Game's Law Enforcement Division. "Local lobster populations will suffer severe declines if poaching activity is left unchecked."

The effort that Fish and Game officers put into investigating these cases is commendable. But there are only a few hundred wardens spread throughout California, so anyone who spots what appears to be nefarious activity should call the confidential toll-free tip number, (888) 334-2258, to report it. After all, these people are stealing natural resources from all of us.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Legal-sized lobster caught along the Ventura County coast during a day of fishing aboard the lobster boat Arlene M. Credit: Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times

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