In the first prosecution since
federal Marine Life Protected Areas were established off the California coast, a Riverside County diver was ordered to give up his gear, spend seven days in jail, pay more than $20,000 in fines and promise to stay out of MLPAs for poaching lobster from Laguna Beach waters. Marbel A. Para was spared being steamed in water and his own juices before parts of him were ripped off and dunked in drawn butter, however.
The Romoland 30-year-old pleaded guilty in January to working with a partner to catch 47 California spiny lobster from the protected area off Heisler Park. Those waters have been closed to lobster fishing for years, even before the 350 square miles of protected marine areas from Santa Barbara County to the Mexico border went into effect Jan. 1.
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State wardens say they have noticed an uptick in California spiny lobster fishing in recent months. Para's haul was more than three times the legal limit of seven lobster a day from unprotected waters during the season that runs in early October through mid-March. Many of the crustaceans were also undersize.
Para took all the blame for the haul, absolving his partner from guilt.