Arizona man fined and barred from San Diego beaches for poaching - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Arizona man fined and barred from San Diego beaches for poaching

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A poacher has been fined $30,000 and is barred from San Diego's coastline in an environmental-protection case that began when concerned citizens reported the poacher taking abalone from waters in the South La Jolla State Marine Reserve, the San Diego City Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Jeff Anthony Zeien, of Scottsdale, Arizona, pleaded guilty to taking and possessing the protected shellfish in two separate instances.

"Protecting our marine resources is a priority for the City Attorney's Office, whether the threat comes from polluters or poachers," San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott said. "I applaud the concerned citizens who reported this illegal activity, and I encourage all San Diegans to be just as vigilant while they are enjoying our city's natural treasures."

Under a plea agreement, Zeien will pay a $30,000 fine and was placed on three years of probation, barred from obtaining a fishing license in the state of California, and ordered to forfeit the fishing gear seized from him.

In addition, Zeien must stay away from the Pacific Ocean within the jurisdictional boundaries of the city of San Diego for three years. The stay- away order covers an area from Black's Beach north of La Jolla to the Zuniga Jetty off Coronado, extending three miles out to sea.

Since 1998, it has been illegal to take or possess abalone in California waters south of San Francisco Bay due to dwindling populations.

Additionally, the area where Zeien was caught, the South La Jolla State Marine Reserve, is considered a "no take" area where the commercial or recreational taking of any living marine resource is prohibited.

This area, and others across the state, were created to protect habitat and ecosystems as well as conserve biological diversity by providing a sanctuary for fish and other sea life.

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