A 41-year-old San Jose man has been convicted of fatally shooting a great white shark off the Santa Cruz County coast last summer, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) said Thursday.
Vinh Pham was fined $5,000 and placed on two years of conditional probation, according to the CDFW. His firearm was also ordered to be destroyed.
The investigation into the shark’s death started on June 17, 2018 after the 9-foot male washed ashore at Beer Can Beach in Aptos, the CDFW reported. Officials confirmed that the shark had been shot multiple times with a .22-caliber gun.
The CDFW received a tip mentioning that a person belonging to a commercial fishing boat crew may have fired the deadly shots.
During the subsequent investigation, wildlife officers spotted the boat crew fishing in the area where the shark was found, according to the CDFW. Officers eventually met with the crew and conducted an inspection, uncovering multiple violations related to the crew’s catch in the process.
Officers also found a loaded .22-caliber rifle in the truck that the suspect was using to take catches to markets, according to the CDFW.
While the investigation moved forward, Pham confessed to shooting the shark, saying he shot the animal after he saw it swimming near the wings of his fishing net, the CDFW said.
Earlier this month, Pham pleaded to multiple charges, including permitting the waste of the shark, having a loaded rifle in his truck and violations related to his catch, according to the CDFW.