Dutch scallop dredger ordered to pay £47,000 Published: 25 July, 2007
THE UK skipper and Dutch owners of the 38 metre Dutch scallop dredger, Jacoba UK307 were ordered to pay a total of £47,000 in fines and costs by Brighton magistrates on Friday.
Skipper Robert Johnston, 46, of Penzance, and owners Zeevisserij Pasterkamp of Urk, Netherlands, pleaded guilty to a total of 45 offences in a case brought by the Marine and Fisheries Agency.
The court heard that the Jacoba is one of the biggest scallop boats fishing in UK waters and that the offences took place in the east and west Channel.
Johnston was fined a total of £10,300 for: 14 log book offences; 13 offences of failing to submit accurate landing declarations; 18 offences of retaining sole where there was no Dutch allocation; and a fine to contribute to value of the fish.
Total fines for the owners for the same offences were £23,600 plus £13,800 costs.
Magistrates were told that an MFA fisheries officer detected log book anomalies which when checked against satellite data showed the Jacoba had been catching in sole in an area where the Dutch had no quota for the species.
Further investigations revealed that between April and November 2006 none of the Jacobas landing declarations in UK ports were accurate for any species.
The bench heard that Johnston had over-recorded by 100 tonnes the amount of scallops that the vessel caught between April and November 2006. The court was told that a motive for this would be to increase the amount of fish he was allowed to retain as a bycatch, and also improve the Jacobas track record should scallops ever become a quota species.
In a statement read to the court fish scientist David Palmer, of Cefas, said reliable data from scallop landings was vital to assess the state of the stocks of this species.
Prosecuting for the MFA, David Buck said that all the offences were “at very best a total disregard for fisheries regulations”.
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