Officials of the State Department of Fish and Game are looking for Nhieu Van Nguyen of Montebello, who was caught and cited for illegal use of a gill net early this month off the Malibu coast.
Nguyen was arrested June 3 by DFG warden Jorge Gross, who was on routine patrol when he encountered the fisherman in a near-shore area off Point Dume.
Gross cited Nguyen for using a gill net with a mesh of less than six inches in water less than 48 feet deep, and for commercially fishing for surf perch during a closed season, June 1-Sept. 30.
Gross said that upon review of a log kept by Nguyen, he has since added a charge of false documentation of records. Each charge is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of $1,000 and a year in jail.
Nguyen, however, may be in more serious trouble. His net was secured to his boat with steel cables by Gross and he had three days after the arrest to post bond to have the net freed for use, but has failed to do so.
"He would have to use bolt cutters to free the net and if he has done that, he will have tampered with evidence, and that's a whole new ball of wax," Gross said. "If he has done that, he could have his gill net privileges revoked."
According to Gross, Nguyen had 107 pounds of black surf perch, 66 pounds of assorted other fish, which included the state protected Garibaldi, and 274 pounds of opaleye aboard his boat.
Gross said he also has video tape of about 500 dead kelp bass floating near Nguyen's boat. Kelp bass are off limits to commercial fishermen and Gross said it appeared that Nguyen caught the fish in his net and dumped them over the side.
"These fish are spawning and many are juvenile fish, and the law's designed so that these fish are not impacted in the shallow areas," Gross said. "When something like this does happen, there can be a substantial loss in the near-shore fishery."
Nguyen, 47, is scheduled to appear at Malibu Municipal Court on July 19.