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FV Tranquillity BF7 at Fraserburgh Harbour (Photo: courtesy trawlerphotos.co.uk)

Fishing vessel owner and skipper ordered to pay more than GBP 21k for fisheries offences

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Thursday, January 23, 2020, 19:00 (GMT + 9)

The skipper  and the owner of a Scottish-based fishing vessel, who appeared at North Shields Magistrates Court on 10 January 2020, in a prosecution brought by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), were ordered to pay GBP 21,240 for fisheries offences.

The court heard how the Tranquillity (BF7) -  a 22.3 metre stern trawler owned and operated by Tranquillity BF7 LLP -  left the port of Newlyn on 30 May 2019 with Brian Johnstone as master on board. The vessel was targeting nephrops using two trawls with a single codend on each trawl in an area of the Celtic Sea known as Jones Bank. The area forms part of the Biologically Sensitive Area the Hake Recovery Zone, where additional technical measures have been put in place to protect juvenile fish.

Fishery Protection Vessel "Ocean Osprey" (Photo: royalnavy.mod.uk)

On 3 June 2019 officers from Fishery Protection Vessel "Ocean Osprey" boarded Tranquillity to conduct an inspection. A wheelhouse inspection and fish room check found that the tolerance between the recorded catch in the Elog for hake was under-recorded by 36%, in excess of the 10% tolerance.

A gear inspection then found the starboard side net consisted of a synthetic double twine diamond mesh codend with a lifting strop, bottom side chafers, a square mesh panel and type B top side chafer. The average mesh size of the top side chafer was not twice that of the codend and the twine thickness was greater than 4mm, in breach of regulations. The chafer was also attached to the codend in such a way that the meshes of the chafer did not align with the meshes of the codend.

The Fishery Protection Squadron also has a secondary role in conducting inspections of all fishing vessels in UK waters and acting as an arbitrator between rival vessels when disputes arise.(Photo: royalnavy.mod.uk)

Both defendants in the case entered guilty pleas. Tranquillity BF7 LLP was fined a total of GBP 12,000, ordered to pay GBP 1,050 in costs and a GBP 170 victim surcharge. Mr Johnstone was fined GBP 6,800, ordered to pay GBP 1,050 in costs and a GBP 170 victim surcharge.

"The technical measures put in place in these areas are essential to the protection of juvenile fish. They are afforded extra layers of protection as scientific evidence shows these areas are at greater risk of overfishing. It is also important that Elogs are completed accurately to ensure that quotas can be properly managed," said an MMO spokesperson.

"When this is not the case the MMO will always take the appropriate action, including prosecution, to ensure offenders do not benefit from such illegal activity and to protect fish stocks for the wider fishing industry and future generations. In this case, the court has clearly identified these offences as potentially serious infringements, and the level of penalties imposed reflects this."


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