Mother fined $88,000 after children remove protected clams from Pismo Beach

May 25, 2024


A Fresno woman was hit with a more than $88,000 fine after her children collected 72 protected clams from Pismo Beach during a vacation in 2023. [ABC]

During their vacation, Charlotte Russ’ five children collected what they thought were shells from the beach. However, before they left they received a citation for removing the protected small clams. She later received a fine of nearly $89,000.

Pismo Beach deemed itself the “clam capital of the world” in the 40s. But then a large influx of clammers and sea otters nearly eliminated the clam population, which is now gradually rising.

California has enacted guidelines for clamming, including requirements for a fishing license and limits on catch and size of clams taken.

In the end, a court commissioner agreed to drop the fine to $500.


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Mother Russ had her kids do the dirty work. Call it like it is- another valley criminal.

Otters did jack all to a clams. I don’t see otters eating clams and sitting down 3 feet in the break water. Otters are all the abalone, said the people who ruined our ancient beds and make us free dive to get them. Just 25 years ago, I could road camp on the 1 and harvest abalone. Luckily, rich people are too dumb to know there are alternatives. Until the find out, I can’t afford ox tail anymore now…… saying wolves are hurting industrial ag, The dumbest crap ever. Maybe stop ranging where there are wolves?

People, not nature, ruined abalone, and clams, and crabbing locally. Not the natives, the whites and the Asians ruined our abalone population. Now I have to free dive and have a limit of 15 a year. God, I was a spoiled kid, took abalone for granted like a chump. Ate it as if I deserves it. I’ll settle more muscles and other things, snails, etc. until, some fancy pants jerk off makes it into a 100 dollar dish and calls it gourmet* like they did ox tail. It tastes gamey, because it’s neat the rectum, so what, I like that taste. Apparently snobs do too.

I am finding it hard though, unless those clams are sick, how the heck did those kids harvest them without a clam shovel? The clams do breach, maybe Diablo warmed the water a bit too much? The current goes south, or Avila Beach flushed a ton of Sh*t into the bay? As they do, John Wallace Karen V? You exposed that looser.

I’m not certain what you are getting at. Your train of thought writing style is hard for me to follow. Did you leave anyone out? You covered whites, Asians, Avila Beach, Diablo Canyon, “rich people”, and “fancy pants jerk offs”. I’m not even certain who is included in the latter two categories. And what’s John Wallace got to do with it? I didn’t realize he was such an avid fan of clams that he contributed significantly to over harvesting of clams. Another thing, what do you mean “Otters are all the abalone”? I think not. There is a distinct difference in appearance if nothing else.


This incident does not appear to be act of malice rather the lack of knowledge. Perhaps the judge should have ordered Ms. Russ and her children to pass out flyers on the beach to educate people about the do’s and don’ts when dealing with clams.

This should of been handled much more judicially!

The rangers could of used this as a teaching experience for the children:)

When they put guns on the hips of park rangers they became cops instead guides and teachers:(

Please quit blaming the sea otters for the lack of clams on the central coast. Otters have been here for thousands of years and clams proliferated until humans began over harvesting. In the 1960s, it was predicted that human over harvesting would decimate the local clam population. Sure enough, that happened. For evidence of the irresponsible over -harvesting, you can find pictures in the archives of people bringing wagons to fill up with clams that were then fed to hogs in the south county and/or elsewhere. More recently, we have evidence of local fishing people slaughtering otters in a lame and horrific attempt to protect their future catches. This must stop. Leave the otters alone, please. Thank you

Drop the fine to $500.00, but bar this family from ever returning to the Central Coast.

Drop tbe fine to $500 but make the kids re-bury the clams.