Abalone Poacher Faces Stiff Sentence

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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The urchin diver caught with four illegally harvested abalone on a boat in the Santa Barbara Harbor in November 2012 was convicted by a jury of all seven charges against him last week and will be sentenced on 4/24. The state Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) is seeking a stiff sentence for Robert Laumer, including a lifetime suspension of his recreational and commercial fishing permits as well as community service and fines. The other three men caught that day, John Bolton, David Abernathy, and Richard Gallo, were cleared of any wrongdoing. It was the first case of abalone poaching by a commercial fisherman since the taking of the mollusk was banned in Southern California more than 15 years ago. “We’re thrilled to get justice in this case,” said DFW spokesperson Andrew Hughan. “We want the bad guys to see that we are out there.” The conviction comes just a week after two other Santa Barbara Harbor fishermen were caught stealing crabs from other fishermen’s nets.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

I'm not sure how you can compare breaking arbitrary government regulations to stealing from somebody.

I really hope they give him a light sentence, maybe just a small fine, and allow him to keep his licenses. It's not like he brought in 50 abalone and sold them on the black market for a hefty profit, he probably was just going to eat them himself.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 2:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

What's your position on poaching endangered African Elephants for their tusks Loon?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 3:11 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That's the easiest question in the world.

People like steak and hamburgers, why aren't cows extinct? Why don't people poach cows on a regular basis? Because it is legal to raise, herd and slaughter cows on private property. There are millions of cows everywhere, they are never going to go extinct.

There is a really easy to way to mitigate the elephant issue and that is to make it legal to own, raise and slaughter elephants. There would be no more poaching of wild elephants because the black market for ivory would disappear, the prices would drop dramatically. Wild elephant populations would soar to new heights.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 3:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"a lifetime suspension of his recreational and commercial fishing permits.."

Pretty stiff, I agree. I just wish the courts would do the same to DUI offenders...Take away their "privilege" to operate a motor vehicle. Maybe the Capps aide wouldn't have killed that poor girl...and so many others that re-offend with a reissued DL.

azuresees (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 4:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

loonypt, there is a difference between livestock and wildlife. Keep us posted about your plans for abalone and elephant farms here in SB.

locke (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 4:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

That very well may be the most expensive four abalone ever.

sbresident2 (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 4:28 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe you can charge tourists to slaughter the herd for you, and graze them on De La Guerra Square.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 4:43 p.m. (Suggest removal)

OMG!! One of those abalone could have found the cure for cancer... LOL. Who cares?

Validated (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 4:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

locke, do you know if there are any legal restrictions on farming and selling abalone?

I would love to take your advice, but I don't have the 2.8 billion years it would take to wade through all of the local, state and federal regulations.

However if you recall from the example I gave, if there were people raising elephants for ivory then the need to poach the wild elephants would decrease and so the wild population would increase as well.

In the late 1800s tens of millions of buffalo in this country were killed off in part to try to kill off the native american's food sources so they could herd them up and put them on reservations. Eventually it was estimated there were only a few HUNDRED buffalo left in the country!

"In 1872 Yellowstone National Park was opened as a safe haven, but poaching still remained a substantial problem. Henry Yount, remembered for his time at Yellowstone as the first national park ranger, resigned after only 14 months on the job because he knew his efforts alone were hopeless.

Thankfully for the bison, Charles Goodnight, James McKay, William and Charles Alloway, as well as a host of other private ranchers began to scoop up wild buffalo throughout the 1860s and 70’s. From 1884 to 1902, the bison population in Yellowstone actually decreased from 25 to 23, but also by 1902, an estimated 700 were privately owned. This trend has continued for more than a century, as by the 1990s the ratio was 25,000 publicly-owned to 250,000 privately-owned bison. "


loonpt (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 5:36 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"It is far more likely that the only way to save them is through free markets and privatization, as was seen in the case of the American bison, also known as the American buffalo."

What an inaccurate generalization. Animals in Africa, the Americas and elsewhere are endangered because of shrinking habitat. There may be more bison on private lands than public, but the numbers today are but a drop in a bucket compared to what they were.

In Kenya, the vast herds of game roam 40 national parks, as they do in the national parks of Tanzania. Elephants did so well in the national Kruger Park that they were culled at one time to prevent them from ruining the park. Rhinos were rescued from extinction in a national park. Game abounds in other southern and central African national parks.

The problem with elephants and rhinos is not a problem that is found with bison - no one is hunting bison for their horns for medicinal purposes. And in the colonization of Africa, the indigenous people ended up poor, just as in the US and Australia. There are no rhinos and elephants in the US or Australia. Thus there are no horns to sell to people who are willing to pay high prices that could help impoverished people eat. This has nothing to do with private versus public. It has to do with a unique set of circumstances - poor people, animals that can be killed for a product that will earn money, to help feed families.

And we have to put killing in perspective, too. While colonizers shot at animals in all of the continents that they settled without any regard for the continued existence of those animals. They did this while settling down on land that was not theirs, and taken by means of guns, creating self-sustaining towns and cities, while the indigenous people who were strangers in a new dominant culture, fared badly. White people then spread their environment-devouring practices further afield, to continue sustaining their culture - the trees in the Amazon, mines in South America, oil fields in Africa and the Middle East.

Now, the indigenous people in Africa have taken to guns to kill in order to survive, by killing an animal for which there is a high price. Just like oil companies employ whatever methods they can for black gold, including sonar that kills or maims marine animals.

In this century it is now a problem to kill to feed, because of numbers - declining numbers of species and exploding numbers of hungry people. Even Bindi Irwin gets it.

You have to put aside free market dogma because it is killing the planet. You have to look at the whole picture, cause and effect, local conditions versus global conditions, human greed and ignorance especially wrt to the medicinal properties of rhino horn and elephant tusks. And never to make false equivalencies.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
April 23, 2014 at 10:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

We're getting off track and ignoring the Human side here...He's not a young man anymore-if you remove his (and his Family's) income source, what next? He did the crime knowingly and should be punished, but this is a llittle severe IMO.

Tubo (anonymous profile)
April 24, 2014 at 8:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Way off point!

The human side is the guy is a repeat offender and the other charges were related to size limits on his "legal" sea urchin catch. Look, the state gives a privilege to harvest and follow the regs. If Laumer can't be bothered to bring in urchin large enough to pass muster and then on top of that takes abs to eat/sell/barter he's made a conscious decision to screw the rest of us "humans" who are fishing sustainably. The rules and penalties are the same for all divers. We all know this when we go out.

As to the posters who are discussing the elephant issue; abalone still have their habitat around the islands relatively undisturbed. They are coming back at a rate far exceeding the popular expectation. They remind me of the snails that periodically infest my garden: they're basically impossible to kill off if the habitat/food source is not destroyed.

Farming abalone is well established and if you've the money and inclination you can eat it every night. It is much, much cheaper, read greener, to properly manage the natural environment for abalone and other fish production.

The closure of abalone over the last 17 years has reestablished large populations in some areas and, barring habitat degradation, others will follow. How we manage such renewable resources in future is the issue to focus on.

ijmarsh (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2014 at 7:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

This is spot on
"The closure of abalone over the last 17 years has reestablished large populations in some areas and, barring habitat degradation, others will follow. How we manage such renewable resources in future is the issue to focus on."

All renewable resources are what we should be talking about, but one side wants to eliminate fishing and one side wants the "law of commons"

Its tough to side with either one for me, I don't like either ones tactics

On this story I am sorry another commercial guy bites the dust even if deserved

dadof3 (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2014 at 11:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'd be down for an experiment - take one of the medium size channel islands and split up 80 ocean parcels going from the shoreline to about a mile or more out. Then sell off 40 parcels to commercial fishermen, alternating between empty and sold, and the empty parcels will all be preserves.

The rest of the channel and islands will continue to be regulated as they are currently.

The commercial fishermen who wish to can all chip in on security for their parcels and on top of being able to fish their parcels themselves, they can also sell off the rights to fish them to smaller commercial fishermen and they will be allowed to set whatever limits they want or charge whatever fee structure they wish.

I guarantee the parcels will not get over-fished because the owners of the parcels will want their parcel to continue to produce seafood for years to come. In fact, they may even "seed" their parcels with young farmed fish knowing that other fishermen will not be able to benefit from their ocean life seeding, only they will.

This should get rid of the 'law of the commons' problem and they could also harvest abalone and whatever they wanted as long as they do it at a sustainable rate, their parcel will continue to thrive.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
April 25, 2014 at 12:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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