Abalone Poaching Continues on the Northern California Coast

California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens have arrested two abalone poachers and booked them into Mendocino County Jail.

The arrests were the result of “Operation Scoop and Run”, an extensive undercover investigation by the Department of Fish and Game.

Lake County News reported that Paul Chak Po Mak, 61, and Samuel Xing Sin, 41 were arrested with an illegal catch of 84 abalone. The Department of California Fish and Game regulation 29.15 (C) states there is a daily limit of three abalone per individual and an annual limit of 24.

A search of the suspects’ homes yielded abalone cards and dive gear. Authorities also confiscated an abalone 10 and 3/4 inches in size. Abalone of this size are scarce.

Per the California Department of Fish and Game, abalone has been over fished, grows slowly, and reproduces infrequently. The Red Abalone is the only species that may be taken in Northern California

The men could be charged with possession and intent to sell on the black market, where each abalone may sell for over $100.00.

Sadly, the penalties for poaching do not appear to serve as a deterrent. Both Mak and Sin have been arrested for abalone poaching in the past. Mak is currently on probation and Sin has a pending case against him.

Perlmoen poaching

Abalone poaching is not a crime unique to the United States.

Jeffreys Bay News reports perlemoen (abalone) poaching is big business in South Africa.

Poaching has made a few people very wealthy, but the distribution of abalone (perlemoen) money through the community has had a destructive effect. It takes children out of schools and gangs use abalone smuggling to fund and facilitate drug trafficking.

There are not enough abalone numbers to support the continued rampant poaching of these sea snails — and it is important to note that wildlife crime does indeed finance criminal activity around the globe.


Image by N yotarou via Wikimedia Commons

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Andrew Larson is the Co-Founder of Annamiticus. He grew up on the East Coast of the United States, where his love of the environment started with childhood summers spent camping at Lower Sysladobsis Lake in Maine. He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) with an MBA in Marketing from Wake Forest University. After graduate school, Andrew followed his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, around the country until 1995. He is an avid birder who enjoys travel, live music, comic books, and cooking.