Help Jon Apothaker Save the Giant Black Sea Bass!

You might have heard about Jon Apothaker's story. On January 3, 2010, while fishing on the Balboa Pier in Newport Beach, California, Jon felt a strong tug on his line. Like any fisherman, Jon quickly became excited at what he had hooked. Over the next hour Jon held firm to his fishing rod as he attempted to bring his mighty catch to the surface to see what it was. Jon's struggle attracted quite a crowd of spectators by the time the fish emerged from the depths. When the motionless fish finally came up to the surface some distance from the pier, the fish simply appeared to be a large dark gray mass several feet in length and over a couple of hundred pounds. As Jon tried to bring it closer, his line broke. However, a small fishing boat drew close and used two gaffs belonging to others to hook the fish in the jaw. Jon made his way to the beach and waded out into the water to recover the hooked fish. Jon struggled mightily, but with assistance he was finally able to bring the fish just onto the shore. Once on the shore Jon worked frantically to remove the hook from deep inside the fish as quickly as possible in order to get it back into the water. What Jon did not realize, however, was that he had hooked what is known as a "giant sea bass" or a "giant black sea bass."

Unfortunately, the giant sea bass (Stereolepis gigas) is a protected species in the State of California. The giant sea bass can grow over 5 feet long and weigh over 500 lbs! This gentle giant had became overfished in the last century leading to the passage of a bill in 1982 forbidding one from catching and keeping one. However, "incidental" or accidentally catching one--and releasing it--is not illegal according to the law.

After getting the big fish back into the water, Jon worked hard for almost an hour to massage the fish and work oxygenated water into the fish's gills to revive it. At times Jon would step away to let the fish go, only to return to assist when it did not appear strong enough to breath on its own. Jon continued to try to move the fish back under the water where it could breath. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the big fish slowly swam away into the depths. Jon, relieved that he had managed to rescue the wounded fish, returned to shore. Sadly, despite Jon's heroic efforts to revive the fish, there is an unconfirmed report that the fish was found expired washing up to the shore several hours later.

California Department of Fish and Game initially found that Jon's actions in hooking the fish were "incidental" to lawful fishing, and lauded his efforts to save the fish. Within days, however, videos taken out of context appeared on the website, leading numerous animal activists to call and complain to the Department of Fish & Game, pressuring them to pursue Jon criminally. The matter became too politcal and the matter has now been referred to the Orange County District Attorney's Office, which is presently reviewing the matter for considering of criminal charges against Jon!

Despite Jon's legal troubles, he has decided to turn this unfortunate accident into a positive one. Because most people like Jon don't know the black sea bass is protected--or even what one looks like if they caught one--he has begun a public campaign to bring attention to the protected status of the giant sea bass. Jon has created t-shirts with a picture of the creature that indicates it is protected under Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations sec. 28.10.

Get a Shirt!

Jon, hoping not only to raise awareness of this protected species, also wishes to encourage the public to donate to non-profit marine research organizations that work to protect species like the black sea bass. To do this, Jon has decided that for a $20.00 donation, he will send you a T-shirt, and donate the proceeds after costs to a leading non-profit marine research organization. These fine T-shirts were created with the assistance of "Quintanilla Tee Designs."

If you wish to make a donation and receive one of these T-shirts, please send a check, cashier's check or money order for $20.00 made out to "Save the Sea Bass Fund," to the following address:

"Save the Sea Bass"
c/o The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
1720 E. Garry Ave., Ste. 221
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Jon will give away shirts for free if you spot him out in public on a pier near you!

2/9/10 UPDATE: Jon has has gone to the Balboa Pier to give away some of these T-shirts for free to local fishing shops and anglers on the Pier! If you are there, please feel free to come up and get a free shirt to help promote the protected status of the Black Sea Bass.

2/13/10 UPDATE: Jon went to Venice Beach and gave away more T-shirts for free to locals to educate them about the Black Sea Bass!

3/2/10 UPDATE: Jon gave away more six T-shirts to "Avet Reels Factory" and mailed three more to "Hubbs Sea World Research Institute"!

3/3/10 UPDATE: Jon gave away more free T-shirts in Malibu!

Get Artwork!

Jon has also personally created hand-made one-of-a-kind acrylic art prints of the black sea bass. If you would like one of these prints, Jon will send one to you for a $100.00 donation (similar to the T-shirt donation described above), which he will pass along after costs to a leading non-profit marine research organization. Stay tuned to see new prints as they are created!

New Prints! 3/7/10

Please Also Consider Donating to Jon's Defense Fund

Due to political pressure, there is a strong likelihood that Jon could face criminal charges for this unfortunate incident. Presently Jon has an attorney who is working pro bono (free) to defend Jon from any criminal charges. Unfortunately, it is an uphill battle against the limitless resources of the government, and Jon and his attorney need your help in proving his innocence!

If you would like to help support Jon, you can make a donation to the Jon Apothaker Defense Fund, by sending a check, cashier's check or money order made out to "The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann". Please indicate in the memo line: "Jon Apothaker Defense Fund", and mail to:

The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
1720 E. Garry Ave., Ste. 221
Santa Ana, CA 92705

If you wish to contact us or need more information regarding Jon's case, please e-mail us at: [email protected] or see us at: The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann.

The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann

Orange County Office
1720 E. Garry Ave., Ste. 221
Santa Ana, CA 92705

Los Angeles County Office
5220 Clark Ave., Ste. 100-B
Lakewood, CA 92712

O: (949) 596-0060
F: (949) 474-0306
E-mail: [email protected]