CA Fish n Game Wardens Take Down Hard-Core Lobster Poacher

spectr17

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November 15, 2001

Fish and Game Wardens Take Down Hard-Core Lobster Poacher

Contact: Warden Eric Kord, South Coast Region Field Office (619) 467-4201

San Diego -- Early last summer, DFG wardens were shocked by the anonymous tip that Mr. Marc L. Sosnowski was back in the lobster poaching business. They thought they had shut down the local diver in 1999 when he was convicted of poaching 94 lobsters from the San Diego - La Jolla Ecological Reserve. Sosnowski didn’t care if the season was open or closed, how big they were, or whether he was having a serious impact on the local lobster population. As a result of the 1999 case, Sosnowski was placed on probation and fined $800.

Warden Eric Kord, the case officer headquartered out of San Diego, launched an investigation into the alleged poaching activity. A team of 15 game wardens, including undercover game wardens from DFG’s Special Operations Unit (SOU), set up surveillance for several days while Sosnowski went about his business. SOU wardens videotaped him suiting up to get the lobsters. Other undercover wardens were in place at the beach to observe him enter the water with a pole spear in hand. When he exited the water, concealed game wardens watched him stash his catch near the water while he changed into his clothes back at his vehicle, a common practice for experienced poachers. While he was changing into his clothes, Warden Adrian Foss snuck over to the hidden game bag and observed between 100 and 120 "tailed" lobsters. (Tailing a lobster is when the tail is ripped from the carapace underwater rendering it unable to be measured) Tailing also makes it easier to fit more into the bag. Foss observed that the majority of the adult females were carrying eggs.

Sosnowski returned to retrieve the lobsters never knowing that he was under constant observation. He was allowed to leave with the lobsters for the purpose of catching him in the act of selling. SOU wardens followed him to a parking lot and videotaped him selling the lobsters for profit. In the meantime, DFG’s Dive Team converged to search the water Sosnowski had just exited for the lobster carapaces. The team recovered 23 fresh lobster carapaces, most with spear holes.

A search warrant was obtained for Sosnowski’s residence. All gear related to SCUBA diving and his illegal activity was seized. In addition to poaching the lobsters, Sosnowski also took an abalone, which is illegal south of San Francisco Bay.

On Wednesday, November 14, Sosnowski plead guilty to the follow charges:

Fish and Game Code section 7121 for unlawfully selling fish (i.e. spiny lobster).
Fish and Game Code section 5521 for unlawfully taking abalone.
Fish and Game Code section 2002 for unlawfully possessing fish (i.e. spiny lobsters) for commercial purposes, taken in violation of California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.90 (a).
Sosnowski will serve 180 days in county jail on a work furlough program and will be fined $15,215. For three years he is required to stay away from the ocean or bay while in possession of any diving or fishing equipment and is prohibited from obtaining any fishing license. All of the dive gear seized has been permanently forfeited.

The vast majority of lobster divers participate using legal methods during the open season. Lobster season opened September 29 and extends to March 20, 2002.

Note to editors: Video shot by DFG’s undercover Special Operations Unit will be made available to television stations. Video is on Mini-DV format and is a first generation digital copy. VHS copies will also be available. Please bring necessary equipment to duplicate. Thousands of dollars worth of seized SCUBA diving gear will be displayed.
 

OC hunter

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As a scuba diver who has chased down a few lobsters, it really burns me to see people like this.  You go through so much trouble to follow every rule - Only catch lobster by hand, limit of seven, carefully measure each one, and carefully follow the open season guidlines.  They need to check up on this guy every year to see what he is doing.  Sounds like he doesn't have any other skills.  Just think how many lobsters he took before they caught him, thousands?  I wonder if they ever would have caught him without getting a tip first.
 

Thonzberry

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I myself am a Divemaster and to here this kind of stuff just chaps my hide, They need to fry him like a lobster. I hope they take his fishing and diving privaliges away for ever.
 

grizz

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Nice to see someone like that gets caught, now and then.  15,000 Ouch!  
 

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