Two individuals recently arrested for lobster poaching in the San Diego area have been sentenced to jail time. The arrests, though unrelated, both involved repeat offenders —one of whom gained international media attention in 2007 for attempting to hide six poached lobsters in his pants.
Binh Q. Chau was sentenced to 90 days in jail after a Department of Fish and Game (DFG) warden found him fishing for lobsters with a handline March 18 at the La Jolla Marine Preserve, where it is unlawful to take any living, geological, or cultural marine resource.
When the warden approached, Chau attempted to throw the line into the ocean, but it was still connected to a spool in his pocket. Chau also gave a false name, but the warden—who had arrested Chau for lobster poaching on two previous occasions— recognized him and conducted a search. Four lobsters and a cabezon (fish) were found in Chau’s possession. He pled guilty to the charges June 3 before being sentenced in San Diego Superior Court.
Chau has a long history of poaching arrests, including three arrests in a two-week period in late 2007. During one of these incidents, Chau attempted to stuff the poached lobsters into his pants. Chau was found guilty on poaching charges related to the 2007 arrests, and was subsequently arrested and convicted on similar charges two more times prior to his March 18 arrest. As a condition of his most recent conviction, Chau was prohibited from fishing anywhere on the coast within San Diego city limits for three years.
Also convicted was Jason Bryan Chavez, who San Diego Police found in possession of 46 lobsters on May 18. All of the lobsters were taken out of season and were below the legal minimum size. And because it is currently lobster breeding season, some of the females were carrying eggs. Chavez pled guilty to poaching charges and was ordered to serve 120 days in jail, in addition to being placed on probation.
Since 1995, Chavez has been arrested on poaching charges 10 times in the Mission Bay area.
Residents who witness poaching activities are asked to call the DFG 24-hour CalTIP line at (888) 334-2258.