Police 'copters trap fishing skippers – Fishupdate.com

Police ‘copters trap fishing skippers Published:  25 November, 2009

TWO  trawler skippers who were filmed by police as they pair trawled inside the three mile limit have landed themselves an unwanted bill of £17,000 apiece.

The vessels, the Catherine Annie and the L’Ecume II were fishing just a mile offshore, near Bognor Regis, West Sussex, when the Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee called in the Sussex Police helicopter to catch them in the act. The boats were targeting black bream, one of the most vulnerable species to intensive fishing because they congregate in shallow water to breed.

David Waldron, 61, of Lowestoft, and Michael Michieli, 49, of Jersey, each pleaded guilty to four offences of fishing in April and May this year within the three-mile fisheries limit – an area where large vessels are excluded to protect the marine environment and vulnerable fish stocks.

In the case brought by the Sussex Sea Fisheries Committee, magistrates fined them a total of £14,000 each  and added a further £3,000 each in costs..

The court heard that, since November 2001, Michieli, owner of the L’Ecume II, had been prosecuted on five occasions for similar offences, resulting in total fines of £8,500 and costs of over £4,900. Waldron, owner of the Catherine Annie  had been prosecuted for six similar offences over the same period with fines of £9,000 and costs exceeding £4,400.

Inspector Simon Pettett of Sussex Police  said: “Larger fishing vessels can be tracked by satellite, but the helicopter can record the illegal trawlers in action and provides the speed of response than that cannot be matched by a patrol boat.”