Brixham fishing firm found guilty of catch offences –

Brixham fishing firm found guilty of catch offences Published:  07 June, 2010

A Brixham fishing company and its fishermen accused of not declaring the catch area for Dover sole have been found guilty at Exeter Crown Court.

Christina Fishing Ltd, company director Peter Boyce, 43, of Penn Meadows Close, Brixham, and fisherman Christopher Piper, also 43, of North Boundary Road were found guilty of furnishing false information as to the area of capture.

The case was brought by the Marine Management Organisation (formerly Marine and Fisheries Agency)  following the seizure, during a routine boarding, of private records of fishing activities. The offences relate to the beam trawler Christina and its owner company Christina Fishing Ltd in early 2008.

Christina Fishing Ltd had denied 11 charges, Boyce had denied eight  counts and Piper three counts relating to keeping a false record of quantities of fish caught and area of catch. Details of fish caught in restricted areas of the English Channel were recorded in a diary found in the wheelhouse, but the official logbook did not match these records.The company was fined £12,000 in total plus £10,000 costs. Boyce was fined £1,000 and £1,000 in costs, and Piper was fined £500 in addition to £350 costs.

Julian Roberts, District Marine Officer with the Marine Management Organisation, said “We are pleased with the outcome of this serious case which involved deliberately misdeclaring catch details of sole in the Western Channel where it is under great pressure.This was a complicated prosecution and I want to congratulate the MMO’s marine officers at Brixham for their detailed work and the way they gave their evidence which convinced the jury.”

She added: “Fishing quotas – which were at the heart of the Christina case – are environmental protection measures which are designed to protect fish stocks so they can be sustainably exploited in future. There have recently been encouraging signs of improved compliance and the use of fishing gear which significantly reduces the level of discarded fish.”