Los Angeles – City Attorney Mike Feuer announced today that his Environmental Justice Unit has charged 45 people for violations ranging from fishing without a license to taking mussels, turban snails, sea urchins and other marine life over the legal limits form White Point Beach in San Pedro. The extensive animal harvesting has decimated the fragile ecosystem along the coast and it is uncertain if it can recover.
"We're fighting to protect these fragile San Pedro tide pools and the sea life that depends on them--a precious resource that families here have long enjoyed, and that I want future generations to experience. We allege these defendants have jeopardized that future by threatening this sensitive ecosystem," said Feuer. "You can't just take as many of these creatures as you want, whenever you want. That's why we're prosecuting. I thank our dedicated partners at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for bringing these cases to us and for being such great partners in our work to preserve our environment."
"Together with City Attorney Mike Feuer, CDFW wildlife officers are committed to stop the poaching activity taking place in San Pedro. It is critical to preserve these tide pools for their intrinsic value and for future generations to enjoy," said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division.
California law requires a valid fishing license for anyone taking marine life from the coastal waters of the State. In addition, there are also specific requirements for different species, complete bans for particular species and different coastal areas and regulatory daily limits on how much marine life can be taken from our beaches. The daily limit on turban snails, for example, is 35. The limit for mussels is ten pounds per day. For many species, there are restricted times when taking is allowed. For example, lobster season runs from mid-October through mid-March.
Wildlife Officers with CDFW were notified in May that crowds of people—some using garden tools, screwdrivers and crowbars—were digging out enormous amounts of sea creatures from the tide pools at White Point Beach in San Pedro and surrounding areas. This has greatly diminished the sea life in the tide pools while significantly damaging this fragile ecosystem.
In response, numerous people were cited by CDFW Officers and those cases were referred to the City Attorney’s Environmental Justice Unit for prosecution, with violations ranging from fishing without a license to taking mussels, turban snails and other sea creatures over the daily legal limits.
The overfishing at White Point Beach and surrounding areas is a concern to CDFW, the City Attorney’s Office, the surrounding community and conservationists because the tide pools are part of a delicate ecosystem. With so many people removing wildlife from coastal waters, these sensitive habitats may not be able to withstand the pressure harvesters are placing on them.
Each of the 45 defendants charged in these 23 cases face a maximum of six months in jail and $1,000 for each misdemeanor alleged.
Deputy City Attorneys Ella Fernandez and Nick Karno of the Environmental Justice Unit are prosecuting these cases.