|For Immediate Release
Case # 10HM04414
TWO FISHERMEN CHARGED WITH UNLAWFULLY REMOVING ENDANGERED GIANT BLACK SEA BASS FROM OCEAN OFF BALBOA PIER
*Sea bass died as a result of the 1-hour struggle; Beach-goers uploaded video of the incident on YouTube
NEWPORT BEACH – Two fishermen have been charged with catching and removing a protected species of giant black sea bass from the ocean at Balboa Pier after a lengthy struggle that was caught on video by numerous beach-goers. Jonathan Paul Apothaker, 45, Valley Village, and John Francis Brady, 45, Huntington Beach, are each charged with one misdemeanor count of unlawfully taking a black sea bass. If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum sentence ranging from probation to six months in jail. Apothaker and Brady are scheduled to be arraigned July 16, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. in Department H-8, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.
California Code of Regulation 28.10(a), the unlawful taking of a black sea bass, states that if a giant black sea bass is caught in the State of California it must “immediately” be returned to the water. Due to their dwindling numbers as a result of over-fishing, giant black sea bass are a protected species in the State of California and have been labeled critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. These fish can live to be as old as 100 years old and grow as large as 500 pounds.
On Jan. 3, 2010, Apothaker is accused of fishing off the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach. Brady is accused of fishing in a small boat on the water near the pier. The defendants did not know each other.
That afternoon, Apothaker is accused of catching a giant black sea bass and struggling for approximately one hour to pull the fish out of the water until his fishing line broke. Brady is accused of observing the struggle from his boat and offering to assist Apothaker in exchange for half of the fish.
Using a hook, Apothaker is accused of passing his fishing line to Brady so that Brady could remove the fish from the water. Brady is accused of putting three hooks in the giant black sea bass’ mouth and using his boat to move the fish toward the beach. Apothaker is accused of swimming out to the boat and grabbing the fish, swimming with it back to the shore.
Apothaker is accused of pulling the fish out of the water and holding it upright like a trophy for photos to be taken. After having his photo taken, Apothaker is accused of cutting the fishing line and part of the fish’s mouth to remove a hook and leaving the remaining hooks in the sea bass. He is accused of then pushing the mortally-wounded fish back into the water.
Brady is accused of leaving in his boat upon seeing the arrival of the California Department of Fish and Game and animal control from the Newport Beach Police Department. The incident, including the struggle on the pier and dragging of the fish through the water, was captured on video by several beach-goers and uploaded to the Internet, including YouTube.