Fishing company given nominal fines –

Fishing company given nominal fines Published:  16 July, 2009

A CROWN Court judge has ordered Newlyn fish auctioneers and trawler owners W Stevenson and Sons to pay a nominal fine of just £1 on each of 45 charges relating to illegal fish quotas.

Last month the company received a compensation order of £710,220 in confiscation penalties plus a further £66,000 in costs, but Stevenson’s were also given a conditional discharges on the fish quota offences. The ruling was criticised by several environmental groups and personalities because the Marine and Fisheries Agency had originally asked for up to £4 million claiming that was broadly how much the company had benefited from the scams – strongly denied by Stevenson’s defence. The judge also said he was taking into account the impact a large penalty could have on the local fishing economy.

Yesterday sitting at Plymouth Crown Court, Judge Philip Wassail, who made the compensation order last month, said the payment order and the conditional discharge could not go together so he was correcting a legal error. Instead, WE Stevenson and Son will pay £1 for each of the 45 specimen charges.

Two years ago the firm was convicted eight charges relating to the illegal landing and sale of quota fish at Newlyn. It pleaded guilty to another 37 charges.

This now should be the end of a long running legal saga which has brought strong opinions on both sides, with fishing supporters claiming that the Proceeds or Crime Act, brought in to deter serious criminals is being unfairly targeted at fishermen.