Mom Faces $88K Fine Over Clams

( – A mother in California received a $88,000 fine after her children collected 72 clams, which she claims they mistook for seashells. Charlotte Russ and her children had visited Pismo Beach, known as the world’s “Clam Capital”, on a family trip. Russ received the fine because the clams had been collected without a fishing license. The mother commented that the experience ruined the trip and taught the children a harsh life lesson about wildlife regulations.

A total of 58 citations were issued in San Luis Obispo County for illegal foraging of clams in 2023. In June 2023 more than 1,300 illicit clams were seized by wildlife officials at the Pismo Beach. According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the harsh penalty for gathering clams without a license exists to protect species of shellfish such as clams. The department’s Lieutenant Matthew Gil stated that the presence of juvenile clams and the need for them to reach 4.5 inches in order to spawn raised the need for the regulations.

Pismo clams are unique to the eastern Pacific ocean. Their color ranges from brown to pale and they are identifiable by their large and thick triangular shells. Russ expressed her shock at being confronted by one of the department’s officials and handed the fine over the clams collected by her five children. She said she was left feeling very “depressed” following the incident. Having received a fine in the mail for $88,993, the mother managed to convince a San Luis Obispo County judge to reduce the fine to $500.

Gil stressed the need to be aware of the wildlife regulations, and commented that it is easy to tell the clams apart from other shellfish by how difficult it is to pull apart their shells. Russ added that her children were now very much aware of the difference between clams and seashells, and that she got a shellfish tattooed on her arm following the judge’s decision to remember the trip by.

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