The San Diego City Attorney on Thursday announced the successful prosecution of four lobster poachers who took more than 250 mostly undersized California spiny lobsters from the South La Jolla State Marine Reserve.
Plea deals in the cases resulted in fines totaling $26,750 as well as jail time, probation, community service, forfeiture of fishing gear and orders to stay away from the marine reserve, a "no take" area where the poaching of any living marine resource is prohibited to protect habitat and ecosystems and conserve biological diversity by providing a sanctuary for fish and other sea life.
"I'm proud of the role the City Attorney's Office is playing in preserving our city's coastal environment," San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott said. "We will continue to work with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to protect precious marine resources so that they are available for future generations."
One case involved three poachers who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts for taking 74 lobsters. Minh T. Ly, Jesse Casarez Martinez, Jr. and Phillip L. Martinez were each placed on three years of probation and ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from South La Jolla State Marine Reserve. Martinez was fined $10,000, Ly was fined $5,000 and Martinez, Jr. was fined $500. Martinez and Ly were also ordered to perform 10 days of public work service.
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In a separate case, Bryan John Gladis pleaded guilty to illegally poaching 185 spiny lobsters on two occasions.
As part of his plea agreement, Gladis was fined $11,250, ordered to serve 120 days in custody and placed on five years of probation. He was also ordered to forfeit all of his fishing gear, sell his fishing boat and stay away from the marine reserve.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife investigated the cases, which were prosecuted by Deputy City Attorneys Cheryl Shitabata and Michael Neumeyer of the City Attorney's Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit.
Citizens can anonymously report suspected incidents of unlawful hunting, fishing or pollution to CalTIP, the Department of Fish and Wildlife's confidential witness program, at (888) 334-2258.
Tips can also be sent via text to 847411 by texting "CALTIP" followed by a space and the message. Witnesses may be eligible for a reward if tips result in successful prosecution.