The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says they received an anonymous tip that crab traps were being placed near the Farallon Islands, an ecologically fragile archipelago with strict marine protections. Fishing of any kind in the marine reserve is prohibited.
"Our officers received an anonymous tip from a commercial fisherman who said he saw another fisherman's crab traps in the Marine Protected Area. He was concerned that this fisherman's illegal activities would put other law-abiding fisherman in a bad light," Fish and Wildlife Assistant Chief for the Marine Enforcement District Eric Kord said in a statement. "This is a large-scale incident of unlawful take from a Marine Protected Area, and we might not have known about it had another commercial fisherman not reported the illegal activity."
Fish and Wildlife investigators allegedly discovered over 90 crab traps in the area, which they seized after "battling difficult sea and weather conditions." They say they released more than 250 Dungeness crabs from those traps back into the ocean.
The District Attorney's lawsuit claims that the authorities were able to trace the traps back to a commercial fishing vessel called Pacific Mist, owned by a Vallejo resident named Tam Van Tran. The state has charged Mr. Tran with — in their own words — "the most egregious case of unlawful crabbing activity in San Francisco's history, as well as the largest incident of documented unlawful commercial crabbing in any Marine Protected Area in California."
Image: Pat Kight / NOAA [Public Domain]