Abalone poacher off Big Sur found guilty and sentenced

California Department of Fish and Game News Release

September 20, 2012

Media Contact:
Warden Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 651-2084

Marina Man Convicted of Poaching Endangered Black Abalone

A Monterey County jury recently convicted a Marina man of poaching 22 black abalone, a federally endangered species.

Hoang Tan Dinh, 53, was sentenced Sept. 12 to three years probation, a 90-day jail term suspended, and fined $15,000 for possession of black abalone for sale. His commercial fishing license was permanently revoked, and he is prohibited from recreational fishing for the duration of his three year probation. A second suspect, Hai Trung Luong, 41, of Salinas failed to appear in court. A $10,000 warrant has been issued for his arrest.

In April, Warden Brian Meyer was on routine patrol in the area of Big Sur when he noticed two men returning from the tidal area during a very low tide with wet clothes, wet hands and scratches. With assistance from a California Highway Patrol officer, Warden Meyer conducted a vehicle stop as the suspects were driving away. He found a backpack with 22 abalone in it, along with a 2-foot long screwdriver. He cited and released both men, photographed the evidence, then returned the abalone to the inter-tidal area in hopes that they would survive.

Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Kellin Dunne was instrumental during the prosecution phase of the case.

Abalone fishing is prohibited from San Francisco Bay south. Black abalone has gone locally extinct in most locations south of Point Conception. Black abalone is one of seven sub-species of abalone in California and was listed as endangered in 2009. Historical overfishing, withering syndrome disease and poaching are the primary causes of population decline.