SANTA ROSA– On October 20, 2020, Thanh Van Nguyen, 69, of Santa Rosa, was sentenced for having an over limit of abalone in violation of F&G Code 5521.5(b).
The charges resulted from the execution of a search warrant during an ongoing California Department of Fish and Wildlife investigation during which 80 abalone were found at Nguyen’s Santa Rosa home. Thirty- five of the abalone were tagged with the Nguyen’s tags, several were not tagged, and some were shucked. The annual bag limit for abalone is three abalone. Possession of twelve abalone creates a presumption of possession for commercial purposes that an individual may then seek to overcome with evidence of lawful take.
“California Department of Fish and Wildlife wardens work to protect our state’s natural resources and investigate those who violated the law,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) Alan Barcelona. “They work in hazardous conditions in order to protect and preserve the environment and our fish and wildlife for all of us, and future generations.”
The disposition requires Nguyen to pay a penalty of $40,000, perform 160 hours of community service, and forfeit the seized abalone. In addition, his sport fishing license has been permanently revoked. By statute, half of the $40,000 fine will go to an abalone restoration and preservation account and half will go to the county treasury. In exchange for his plea, two misdemeanor counts were dismissed. At sentencing, the Honorable Kenneth English admonished the defendant regarding overfishing, stating that overfishing was how we have come to be in the current situation with abalone becoming more and more scarce.
The case was investigated by a special operations unit of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Ann Gallagher White of the Environmental and Consumer Law Division of the District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Ravitch stated, “Abalone is a precious resource to be protected. Those who seek it must remember the restrictions in place. The defendant did not abide by the law and as a result, he lost his sport fishing license permanently.”