A Hayward tropical fish dealer pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally importing 52 rare Clipperton Angelfish, according to U.S. Department of Justice officials.
Steven Robinson, 58, said in court that he traveled to the Clipperton atoll in April 2009 to find and collect the rare species of fish, according to the justice department. He imported the 52 fish but labeled them as a more common species of angelfish found in Mexican waters.
Clipperton Angelfish are native only to the waters of Clipperton Island, an uninhabited atoll under French authority. To fish there requires permission from the French government, which Robinson had not obtained, according to the justice department.
The rare fish can be sold for thousands of dollars, and as much as $10,000 in Asian markets.
Robinson faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison, a fine of $100,000, and another year supervised release. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 30 in San Francisco.