District Attorney Dan Dow announces settlement with the Morro Bay operator of the commercial fishing party boat, “The Endeavor”
District Attorney Dan Dow announces settlement with the Morro Bay operator of the commercial fishing party boat, “The Endeavor”

District Attorney Dan Dow announces settlement with the Morro Bay operator of the commercial fishing party boat, “The Endeavor”

Author: District Attorney
Date: 3/4/2024 11:31:03 AM

Brad Leage, the operator of “The Endeavor”— a commercial fishing party boat that takes customers out on sport fishing trips from Morro Bay Harbor— agrees to pay $12,000 in civil penalties and abide by fishing restrictions during the 2024 fishing season.

The District Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecution Unit has settled a civil enforcement action with commercial fisherman Brad Leage, a commercial sport fishing operator.  Mr. Leage operates the boat, “the Endeavor,” a 55-foot commercial charter fishing vessel based at Morro Bay. The charter boat service regularly takes dozens of paying passengers on deep sea fishing trips along the coastal waters of San Luis Obispo.   

Commercial fishing is a highly regulated business in California with a purpose to protect the long-term sustainability of California’s coastal ecosystems. Officers of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) are entrusted with protecting the state’s precious marine resources by patrolling and enforcing fishing laws along California’s 840-mile-long coastline.

In 2019 and 2021, undercover CDFW officers participated in two sport fishing trips with Mr. Leage on the Endeavor.  On both fishing trips, Mr. Leage admitted that he inaccurately reported the number of crew fishing on the trip and exceeded legal catch limits.  Mr. Leage also admitted that some customers exceeded legal fish limits and caused the waste of fish.

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife rely upon commercial fishermen to accurately report fishing activities for the successful management of fisheries off our Central Coast,” said Assistant District Attorney Eric Dobroth. “The opportunity to take fish and wildlife resources in California requires a high degree of mutual trust between the public and law enforcement.  Commercial fishing regulations exist to ensure the health of our coastal ecosystems for the public’s continued enjoyment and for a sustainable commercial fishing industry.”

The stipulated civil judgment requires Mr. Leage to pay civil penalties totaling $12,000. The stipulated judgment also requires Mr. Leage to accurately report the number of fish caught on board during sport fishing trips.  Finally, the judgment prohibits the crew of the Endeavor from fishing on paid customer trips during the 2024 fishing season.

In addition to the civil enforcement case, the case was also prosecuted criminally.  In the criminal case, Mr. Leage agreed to follow applicable commercial fishing laws for the next 12 months and comply with the terms of the stipulated civil judgment.       

The civil case was investigated by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Kenneth Jorgensen assigned to the District Attorney's Consumer and Environmental Protection Unit.  The criminal case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorneys Amy Fitzpatrick and Sean Baird.

Here is a copy of the civil complaint.  Here is a copy of the stipulated final judgment.

Our Consumer and Environmental Enforcement Unit is committed to the fair enforcement of laws relating to public health and safety.  Environmental enforcement focuses the laws that protect public health and safety; including the generation, transportation and disposal of regulated waste, damage to our natural environment and hazardous work-place conditions. 

Environmental enforcement cases can be pursued in either criminal or civil court.  Examples of such cases include illegal transportation or disposal of hazardous waste, illegal streambed dumping or alteration, and cases involving worker death or serious injury.  The unit also aims to increase public awareness of environmental issues through presentations to local groups when called upon.

To report suspected violations of our environmental laws, call your local police department or, if within the unincorporated areas of the county, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department Patrol Headquarters at (805) 781-4550.   You may also find assistance at San Luis Obispo County Environmental Health Services.

Please contact Assistant District Attorney Eric J. Dobroth at 805.781.5819 with any questions.