Assemblywoman Fletcher’s bill takes aim at commercial fishing operators who poach in marine protected areas. File image

A bill authored by a San Diego lawmaker that cracks down on illegal poaching in marine protected areas by commercial fishing operators has been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher‘s bill (AB-2369) takes effect Jan. 1. and was signed by the governor Friday.

“This law is an important step in preserving the very delicate coastal ecosystems in California’s protected marine areas,” Fletcher said. “These greedy poachers have done an enormous amount of damage, showing that the current penalties are nominal to their bottom line and they don’t seem to work. I’m pretty sure this new law’s threat of a hefty fine will get their attention.”

The law amends the state’s existing Fish and Game Code and stipulates that poachers may be fined $5,000 to $40,000 and face up to a year in jail on a misdemeanor conviction. Operators convicted of second-time violations will lose their fishing licenses and will face fines of $10,000 to $50,000; company personnel may face up to a year in jail on misdemeanor convictions.

Under the law, commercial operators will not be allowed to transfer a fishing license to another person while under investigation.

To see all of California’s marine protected areas, click here.

–Staff

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