A commercial fisherman has been ordered to pay $12,500 in fines for illegally catching crabs in a marine reserve off the San Mateo County coast, the district attorney's office announced.
Mark Russo, owner of the fishing vessel "Freeland," allegedly violated the California Marine Life Protection Act by setting crab traps in the Montara State Marine Reserve in December 2011, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.
Wardens from the Department of Fish and Game seized five traps belonging to Russo that were set inside the boundaries of the marine protection area, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
At the time of seizure, the traps contained 58 Dungeness crabs, Wagstaffe said.
The Montara State Marine Reserve covers more than 11 square miles of ocean environment and lies adjacent to the 6-square-mile Pillar Point State Marine Conservation Area.
Marine reserves are an essential element in conserving California's diverse marine ecosystems and preserving the vitality of neighboring fisheries, Wagstaffe said.
In addition to paying $12,500 in fines for civil penalties and reimbursement of enforcement costs, Russo was ordered to fully comply with the Marine Life Protection Act in operating his fishing business.
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