NORTHERN CALIFORNIA — Two restaurant owners and a poacher caught after a rescue incident were officially fined and penalized for their respective involvements in abalone poaching cases.
Restaurant owners Bryant Chiu Shiu Lee and Steven Yuan Qin Liang both face fines and other penalties for their 2017 convictions surrounding abalone poaching.
Lee, 44, pleaded guilty to “a misdemeanor charge of purchasing abalone for black market resale,” according to a California Department of Fish and Wildlife report. The owner of Sushi Café in Sacramento was order to pay a $40,000 fine, placed on 36 months probations and prohibited from obtaining any sort of fishing license for life.
Liang, meanwhile, was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine and placed on 36 months probation after he pleaded guilty to “felony conspiracy involving the purchase and black market sales of sport-caught abalone for personal profit.” The 47-year-old owner of Asian Buffet in Fort Bragg is also banned from obtaining any fishing license for life and ordered to serve 360 days in Mendocino County Jail.
The third abalone poaching case involved a man who had to be rescued from a cliff.
Mendocino County Sheriff deputies arrested Justin Joseph Adams, 44, in April 2017 after a friend reported him missing near Elk, California. Adams reportedly climbed down a cliff during low tide. His return path, however, was cut off when the tide returned, causing him to not appear at a pre-determined meeting location.
A rescue team was deployed after Adams’ friend called in a missing persons report. Adams was eventually found on the side of a steep cliff, stranded. The subsequent investigation found 38 abalones stashed in two bags, both belonging to Adams.
Adams later pleaded guilty to conspiracy and the taking of abalone for black market sale, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“He was ordered to serve 210 days in the Mendocino County Jail, was placed on probation for 36 months and was order to pay a fine of $15,000,” Department of Fish and Wildlife staff stated. “He is also prohibited from obtaining a sport or commercial fishing license for life.”
The value of abalone on the black market is expected to be high due to the current closure of the 2018 sport abalone season.