The NEIFCA has successfully prosecuted two boats for inshore scallop dredging offences
The North Eastern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (NEIFCA) has successfully prosecuted the owner and master of the scallop dredging vessel, Star of Annan OB 50 and the owner of scallop dredging vessel Qvarl BM 29 for multiple breaches of local scallop dredging regulations and national fisheries legislation, detected off the Yorkshire coast.
At a sentencing hearing at Scarborough Magistrates Court on 6 April 2021 the Magistrates found that there had been a deliberate failure to put in place and to enforce such systems as could reasonably be expected in all the circumstances to avoid commission of the offences.
The Defendants had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to 10 offences that had taken place between 4 March 2019 and 28 May 2019, which included operating in a closed season; using scallop dredges without the authority of a permit; exceeding the permitted number of dredges; failing to operate a fully functioning vessel identification system and landing undersize scallops.
The Court also acknowledged the significant associated impacts of the offending on local static gear fisheries evidenced by the NEIFCA officers.
The cases were brought following significant patrol and enforcement efforts by NEIFCA Officers.
The master of the Star of Annan OB 50, Alec Murray of Upper Bayble, Isle of Lewis was ordered to pay £3,633 and the company vessel owner, John MacAlister (Oban) Ltd of South Pier, Oban £187,170 in fines and associated costs relating to multiple offences.
John MacAlister also appeared as a director to represent the company Q Varl Fishing Co Ltd of the Terrace, Torquay that was also ordered to pay £17,310 in fines and associated costs relating to two similar offences committed by the fishing vessel Q Varl BM 29 between 27 May and 4 June 2019.
North Eastern IFCA Chief Officer, David McCandless, said “We have worked very hard to manage and police the scallop fishery in the North East to ensure its sustainability, to protect co-located static gear fisheries and to minimise impacts on the marine environment. These prosecutions should send a very clear message that the Courts take marine conservation and the sustainable harvesting of shellfish very seriously and the outcome is a recognition of the important work that IFCA’s do.”
He added, “I would also like to thank the Officers of Northumberland IFCA for their assistance in gathering some of the key supporting evidence relating to the cases. All the IFCAs work collaboratively and in partnership with a wide range of other agencies to ensure that English inshore waters are managed and monitored effectively.”
North Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NEIFCA) retains a statutory duty under the 2009 Marine and Coastal Access Act to manage the sustainable exploitation of sea fisheries resources within an area between the River Tyne in the North and the South Bank of the Humber Estuary. The seaward limit of the Authority’s jurisdiction extends to 6 nautical miles.
The Authority’s area of jurisdiction covers some 224 coastal miles encompassing over twenty primary fishing ports and launching sites, utilised by over 250 commercial and 600 hobby vessel operators. Annually over 13,500 tonnes of whitefish and shellfish are landed within the Authority’s area for a total first sale value of over £33 million. The inshore fishing sector remains a vital component of the socio economics of the regions coastal communities which are currently facing significant and unprecedented pressures and challenges.
Source: Press Release