Family Fined $88,000 by California Authorities for Collecting ‘Seashells’

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A California family whose children gathered what they thought were seashells off the beach has been fined $88,000.

Charlotte Russ and her children were actually collecting clams, which California has regulations to protect.

“They thought they were collecting seashells, but they actually collected clams — 72, to be exact,” she told the outlet.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials ticketed Russ immediately and later notified her that she owed more than $88,000 in fines.

“It was just really sad, it made me really sad and depressed, and you know, it kind of ruined our trip,” Russ said.

“The reason … we have these regulations is because we have to let them get to four-and-a-half inches so they can spawn, so they can have offspring every year, and they have juvenile clams,” Lt. Matthew Gil from the Department of Fish and Wildlife told KFSN.

The Western Journal reported: After explaining the misunderstanding to a San Luis Obispo County judge, her fine was reduced from more than $88,000 to a mere $500.

Not a small sum, to be sure, but definitely more manageable for the average American mother than the original fine.

Clearly, though, the five-figure fine for the innocent actions of Russ’ children was grossly out of proportion to the offense.

Though humans are called to be stewards of God’s creation, the pursuit of good stewardship and wildlife conservation should be balanced by an understanding of human foibles and mistakes.

The local judge thankfully exhibited the human side of the justice system, understanding that Russ and her children, not being locals, could easily mistake the clams for seashells and gather them up by mistake.

Responsible stewardship involves creating laws and regulations that conserve the environment without forgetting the human quotient.

Otherwise, more people will end up getting fined more than $88,000 for an honest mistake.

It certainly made for a trip that Russ and her children are not likely to forget anytime soon.

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