Mom Fined $88K After Kids Mistakenly Take Home Clams, Not Seashells

Due to her children’s misunderstanding of what constitutes seashells versus clams, a California mother was fined for letting them harvest the live mollusks on the beach without a fishing license.

In late 2023, Charlotte Russ’s family went on vacation to Pismo Beach, California, a location famous for its beaches and native marine life. As stated by the Pismo Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau, the locals bestowed the moniker of “Clam Capital of the World” onto the town in 1947.

There are stringent rules on collecting clams at Pismo Beach. No one may harvest clams less than 4 1/2 inches without a current saltwater fishing license. There are rules regarding the maximum number of clams that may be bagged each day and the time when they can be harvested.

Court documents show that the authorities cited Russ for collecting undersized clams and fishing without a license.

The fine was $88,993.

Protecting shellfish species like clams is the reason behind the hefty punishment for gathering clams without a license, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Whether they’re light or brown, pismo clams are easily identifiable by their thick, big, triangular shells. These clams are found only in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

The outside of the shell may also have a varnish-like covering that is yellowish, brown, or greenish.

Bivalves include pismo clams, which are characterized by their two siphons and biconvex shells.

The Pismo Beach webpage states that the Pismo clam and the Pacific razor clam call the beach their home.

Ten Pismo clams per day is the daily quota for clammers.

Clammers and sea otters are the reasons for the decline in the number of clams, and efforts to regulate the shellfish industry have led to an increase in the population,

Nonetheless, according to Russ, a judge in San Luis Obispo County lowered the charge to $500 when she explained the mistake. Community service might also be used to pay the fine.