Settlement Reached for Violations of Marine Protected Area-Related Laws

Monterey County, California-based District Attorney Jeannine M. Pacioni says her office has reached a settlement totaling $42,747 in a civil law enforcement action against Sophia Fisheries Inc, and its principals for violations of Marine Protected Area-related regulations.

Monterey County has 17 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), the most of any California county, including eight Marine State Marine Reserves (MSMRs) and nine State Marine Conservation Areas (SMCAs).

Using GPS technology, the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife’s marine patrol determined that Sophia Fisheries Inc.’s vessel the Navigator was fishing for spot prawn with traps in Portuguese Ledge State Marine Conservation Area, four miles off the coast of Pacific Grove, on separate occasions in 2019 and 2020.

The only commercial or recreational fishing allowed there is for pelagic finfish.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife also determined that Sophia Fisheries Inc, and its principals did not hold a general trap permit, which is required for commercial spot prawn fishing using traps. The district attorney’s office said without admitting they were fishing in the Portuguese Ledge SMCA, Sophia Fisheries and its counsel worked cooperatively to resolve the matter without litigation, and also immediately obtained a general trap permit.

Under the final judgment, Sophia Fisheries, company president Pete Guglielmo Sr., and Pete Guglielmo Jr., will pay $25,000 in civil penalties, in addition to reimbursement of investigation costs. They are also bound under terms of an injunction prohibiting similar violations of the law in the future.