Calif. Commercial Fisherman’s License Revoked by Fish and Game

Inspection of a lobster trap. Photo: California Fish and Game Commission.

The California Fish and Game Commission has permanently revoked the commercial fishing license and lobster operator permit of a Los Angeles County resident.

On April 4, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that the California Fish and Game Commission, during its Feb. 15 executive session, voted to adopt the CDFW’s recommendation to permanently revoke the commercial fishing license and lobster operator permit of Rustin Craig Wilson, 40, of the Los Angeles County city of Lawndale.

The commission’s action followed a three-day November 2023 hearing before an administrative law judge who heard testimony from both sides regarding Wilson’s history of commercial lobster fishery violations.

The CDFW outlined 18 causes for discipline in addition to aggravating factors. Wildlife officers recounted multiple incidents and documented violations that included fishing in a State Marine Conservation Area (SMCA), not servicing traps at the required intervals, leaving lobster traps in the water after the close of the season, failing to retrieve a closed and baited lobster trap from the water after the close of the season and retaining lobster traps and tags not issued to him.

Evidence was also presented of Wilson’s conviction in Los Angeles County Superior Court for fishing in the Blue Cavern SMCA, a conviction resulting from the diligent effort of prosecutors in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Environmental Justice Unit.

“Whether it’s hunting, recreational fishing, or commercial fishing, the opportunity to take and possess fish and wildlife resources in California requires a high degree of mutual trust between wildlife officers and the public,” Nathaniel Arnold, Acting Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division, said.

“The commercial fishing industry is trusted to comply with laws and regulations, including avoiding Marine Protected Areas,” Arnold continued. “Those who do not comply erode the trust between CDFW, the public, and their law-abiding fellow commercial fishers and threaten the sustainability of our coastal ecosystems.”

The license revocation came around the same time that another Southern California commercial fisherman ran afoul of the CDFW.

In March, Christopher Miller of the Santa Barbara County city of Los Alamos convicted of a multitude of commercial lobster fishing violations. As reported in the April 2024 issue of Fishermen’s News, it was the third commercial lobster poaching conviction for Miller since 2014.

According to CDFW, Miller pled guilty in Santa Barbara Superior Court to falsifying commercial fishing records, harvesting lobster out of season, and abandoning at least 156 commercial lobster traps around Santa Cruz Island and the Santa Barbara Harbor.