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Hunting Accident File > VIOLATIONS > 2006

Crabbers in W. Marin face trapping charges

Article Launched: 6/01/2006 04:48 AM

By Gary Klien
Marin Independent Journal

A San Francisco man and his daughter have each been charged with 62 counts of crabbing violations for illegal traps found along the West Marin coast.

Larry Wong, 49, and Lorelle Wong, a 28-year-old Oakland resident, appeared in Marin Superior Court on Wednesday to answer the charges. Both defendants pleaded not guilty through a Cantonese interpreter.

Each count carries up to six months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine, said Deputy District Attorney Greg Martin, who filed the charges.

The case was the result of an investigation earlier this year by the state Department of Fish and Game. Receiving a tip about illegal crab traps in Drakes Bay, authorities sent a warden from Moss Landing to search the area, said Lt. Robert Puccinelli of the fish and game agency.

The warden found dozens of traps labeled as the property of Larry and Lorelle Wong. Puccinelli said Larry Wong already had a record with the Fish and Game Commission, which permanently revoked his commercial fishing license in 2005 because of numerous prior violations. Lorelle Wong's license was still valid.

"Larry Wong is not supposed to be out there fishing at all," Puccinelli said.

The warden marked the traps with security seals and left for a week. When he returned, the seals were still in place, meaning the traps had been untouched - a violation of state laws requiring crab traps to be cleaned and maintained every 96 hours to prevent the crabs from deteriorating or dying.

The warden found that 12 of the traps lacked the required state-approved destruction devices. The devices are threads designed to fall apart after a certain period, creating an opening for the crabs to escape if the traps have been neglected or lost.

The warden pulled 52 traps belonging to the Wongs and referred the case to the Marin district attorney's office for prosecution.

The Wongs were each charged with 50 counts of failing to service traps within 96 hours and 12 counts of using traps without approved destruction devices. The charges are misdemeanors.

The investigation is continuing, and additional charges could be filed, Puccinelli said.

"It's a serious case by itself, and it's of great importance to Fish and Game based on the fact that (Larry Wong) had his license revoked and he shouldn't have been out there out all," he said.

The Wongs were scheduled to return to court June 20 to set further hearings.

Neither Ananda Norris, a defense attorney for Larry Wong, nor Ian Kelley, attorney for Lorelle Wong, returned calls for comment Wednesday.

Contact Gary Klien via e-mail at gklien@marinij.com

 

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