State wildlife officials cited a Riverside County man Sunday for allegedly poaching dozens of lobsters inside one of Southern California's new marine sanctuaries, in what authorities called the first major violation of fishing restrictions that took effect Jan. 1.
The state Department of Fish and Game said Marbel A. Para, 30, of Romoland and a companion were diving off Laguna Beach shortly after midnight when wardens stopped them and found 47 spiny lobsters, most of them below the legal size limit.
Para was cited for several alleged poaching violations, including unlawful take and illegal possession of lobster and holding more than the legal limit of seven lobsters per diver. His companion was not cited.
The lobsters were photographed and returned to the ocean.
The Laguna Beach sanctuary is part of a network of protected marine areas that went into effect this month along about 15% of the Southern California coast.