The skipper/owner of a fishing vessel, who pleaded guilty to not showing navigation lights, employing crew who had not completed safety training and to using his boat while it was unregistered, has been jailed.
At a hearing today at Southampton Crown Court, Michael Roy Stimson received a custodial sentence totalling four months.
He was being sentenced having earlier pleaded guilty to three offences brought under maritime safety legislation and two offences under food safety and hygiene regulations.
On the night of October 20, 2013, the small fishing vessel Alicia was approached by a fisheries patrol vessel. During the approach the Alicia turned off its navigation lights.
Eventually the Alicia was boarded by fisheries officers (from the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority) who noted there were three people on board, including Stimson.
The fisheries officers noted that the decks were awash and their concerns about the safety of the vessel were passed to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
After reviewing the video provided by the fisheries officers, the decision was made to detain the Alicia as dangerously unsafe. The notice was issued on the grounds that it had insufficient freeboard and stability to operate safely as a fishing vessel.
Investigations by the MCA showed that the two crew men found on board had received no safety training. They also showed the Alicia had not been correctly registered and was formally removed from the registry in February 2014.
The vessel was seen to be fishing in Southampton waters – which is closed to fishing due to high e-coli levels – on at least two occasions in 2013 and 2014.
Stimson was sentenced to a month’s imprisonment for two offences relating to the navigation lights and registration requirements. He was also sentenced two months’ imprisonment for the first food safety and hygiene offence and to three months for the second one. These sentences were ordered to run concurrently
The second food safety and hygiene offence also triggered a suspended sentence order, for which Stimson will serve an additional month.
The court also ordered that Stimson forfeit all interest in the boat under Section 143 of the Power of Criminal Court (Sentencing) Act 2003.
In passing sentence, Mr Recorder Malcolm QC said that Stimson showed a total disregard for all regulation.
He also said that Stimson had put himself, his crew and others in danger by turning off the navigation lights and that he’d put the reputation of the British fishing industry at risk.
David Fuller, principal fishing vessel surveyor at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: ‘Full compliance with training and safety requirements is essential in ensuring safety at sea.’
Stimson was ordered to pay £180 court charge and £80 victim surcharge.