A commercial fisherman who shot and killed a great white shark last June off Aptos, Calif., has been convicted of unlawfully killing a protected animal and fined $5,000.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Thursday that on Jan. 14 in Santa Cruz Superior Court, Vinh Pham, 41, pleaded no contest to killing the shark.
A .22-caliber rifle believed to have been used by Pham was ordered destroyed. In addition the fine, Pham was placed on two years of conditional probation.
CDFW launched a criminal investigation on June 17, after the carcass of a 9-foot male white shark was discovered on the shore of Beer Can Beach in Aptos, south of Santa Cruz.
A necropsy revealed that the shark, a large juvenile, had been shot several times with .22-caliber bullets.
During the investigation, state wildlife officers received a tip regarding a specific boat that had been fishing in the area, according to a news release issued Thursday.
Officers met Pham’s vessel was met early the next morning as it returned to Santa Cruz Harbor. They uncovered several violations, including the catch of undersize halibut. Officers also found a loaded .22-caliber rifle behind the seat of a truck used by Pham to deliver his catch to markets.
Pham ultimately confessed to shooting the shark, saying it was swimming close to his fishing net.
At the time, several juvenile great white sharks were feeding in the area, and routinely seen by boaters. (Juvenile white sharks feed primarily on rays and bottom fishes.)
Pham also pleaded no contest to wanton waste of the white shark, possessing a loaded rifle in his vehicle, failing to accurately weigh his catch, failing to complete landing receipts, and failing to submit landing receipts.
–Generic shark image (top) is via Wikimedia Commons; shark carcass image from Aptos is courtesy of ©Giancarlo Thomae; graphic courtesy of California Department of Fish & Wildlife
A man who shot and killed a great white shark last June off Aptos, Calif., has been convicted of unlawfully killing a protected species.