Last Thursday morning, August 27, some people in northbound I-5 traffic probably noticed the green California Department of Fish & Game truck parked on the side of the freeway, above the Batiquitos Lagoon. Unfortunately for possible fish poachers or lagoon trespassers, they could not have seen the game warden looking down on them with binoculars.
According to DFG captain Angel Raton, the 13 game wardens in the San Diego sector will choose higher-than-waterfront vantage points along the coastline in an effort to spot fishermen taking too many fish, poaching for commercial purposes, or too small, illegal, or endangered species.
“We usually patrol in the morning or in the late evening, when there is more fishing activity,” says Raton.
A bigger enforcement challenge is the fact that San Diego County has the largest fleet of private fishing boats for hire in California. Known as “party” boats, these chartered vessels are often targets for enforcement when they return to the docks in San Diego, Mission Bay, or Oceanside. Unlike licensed sportfishing boats, according to Raton, the owners are usually not aware of the fishing regulations off our coast.
A big issue in North County is the taking of lobster, caught illegally out of season or stolen in season from licensed traps. Fines usually start at $500 for the first lobster in possession and higher for each additional lobster.
On August 27, in the eastern basin of the Batiquitos Lagoon, Raton spotted someone with a dog or a bicycle in a restricted area. DFG also enforces no-trespassing laws near protected waterways and animal habitats.