Marine aquarium fish collector Steve Robinson was sentenced to 45 days in prison on Thursday15th December for smuggling dozens of exotic fish from a small island near Mexico. He is facing prison after pleading guilty to smuggling a rare species of fish that can worth up to $10,000 per animal by claiming they were a more common species.
© D Ross Robertson, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Federal prosecutors accused Robinson of collecting 52 Clipperton angelfish in April 2009 off Clipperton Island. The Clipperton angelfish Holacanthus limbaughi is endemic to the area, growing to 25 cms total length, and is listed by the IUCN as Near Threatened (NT). Clipperton Island is an uninhabited atoll southwest of Mexico under French authority where fishing requires permission from the French government.
Federal fish and wildlife investigators found that Robinson then imported the fish into the United States while falsely claiming to authorities that they were a different, more common species.
Robinson pleaded guilty in August and is scheduled to begin serving the sentence January 30. The presiding United States Magistrate also ordered Robinson to pay a $2,000 fine and a one-year period of supervised release.