In September, Dung Van Nguyen of Sacramento plead guilty in Mendocino County Superior Court to one felony count of forging an abalone report card and one misdemeanor count of taking abalone for commercial purposes. Nguyen is reportedly a repeat offender with multiple other convictions for similar crimes. His charges result from an investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Special Operations Units, which revealed that Nguyen had taken at least 35 abalone in 2013. As a condition of Nguyen’s plea, he will be sentenced to 32 months in state prison, a fine of $15,000, and revocation of his fishing license for the remainder of his life.
The annual limit for abalone is 18, with a maximum possession and daily take limit of three abalone. Fishermen are required to purchase an abalone report card prior to taking any abalone, and must complete the report card for each abalone taken immediately after returning to shore or to their vessel, whichever occurs first. The report card includes individual detachable tags, which must be completed and immediately attached to each abalone with a zip tie or other secure means. Commercial harvest of abalone is not permitted in California. Violations of the provisions of the Fish and Game Code pertaining to abalone are most often charged as misdemeanors, though in certain circumstances they are charged as felonies. As part of Fish and Wildlife and local jurisdictions’ efforts to protect this vulnerable fishery, violations of abalone rules and regulations often carry stiff penalties. Fishermen should take care in complying with the regulations governing this fishery and take a moment to read the regulations and check for changes at the beginning of each season. With a bit of advance preparation and attention, fishermen can both avoid citation and help to protect the health of California’s abalone populations.
Should you have any questions regarding the Fish and Game Code, regulations, or potential violations, the attorneys at Janssen Malloy LLP stand ready to assist.