A Riverside County man was cited Sunday for allegedly poaching 47 California spiny lobsters from Laguna Beach waters within Southern California's new marine sanctuary zone that went into effect Jan. 1.
State Department of Fish and Game warden popped Marbel A. Para, 30, of Romoland, off Heisler Park for unlawful take of lobster, illegal possession of lobster, holding more than the legal limit of seven lobsters per diver and other poaching allegations.
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The Laguna Beach sanctuary is among the 350 square miles of protected marine areas from Santa Barbara County to the Mexico border that went into effect this month to prohibit or limit fishing while depleted marine populations recover. But the waters off Heisler Park have been closed to lobster fishing for years.
Para and a companion were diving off Laguna Beach shortly after midnight when wardens stopped them. The companion was not cited.
Many of the seized spiny lobsters were below the legal size limit. They were all photographed and released back into the ocean. The Department of Fish and Game says spiny lobsters have been a frequent target of poachers recently.