conviction scallop dredging offences

Cornwall IFCA has secured a conviction against a fisherman & fishing company for scallop dredging violations in December 2022 & February 2023

Cornwall IFCA Secures Conviction of Fisherman and Fishing Company for Scallop Dredging Violations

On Thursday 02 November 2023, Truro Magistrates Court witnessed a successful prosecution by Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) against Mr. Mark Manning (59) of Plymouth and Sarah-Jane Fishing Ltd, the respective master and owner of the fishing vessel Cornish Gem PH 819. Mr. Manning had previously entered guilty pleas to the court regarding three counts of using a dredge to remove scallops from the Cornwall IFCA district during prohibited hours in December 2022 and February 2023. Sarah-Jane Fishing Ltd, however, had initially pleaded not guilty to the same charges.

During the recent court proceedings, the company was not represented, and a trial against it was expected to proceed. After Mr. Manning was sentenced, which resulted in fines amounting to £625, a surcharge of £250, and a contribution of £1000 towards the prosecution costs, Magistrates decided to continue the trial against Sarah-Jane Fishing Ltd in its absence. Magistrates ultimately found the company guilty of the three scallop dredging offenses but postponed its sentencing until December 19, 2023, to allow the company to produce its accounts to the court.

Cornwall IFCA has established a byelaw that prohibits scallop dredging between 7.00pm and 7.00am, aiming to conserve inshore scallop stock by maintaining fishing at a sustainable level. Cornwall IFCA officers used data from the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), which included the vessel’s position and speed, to analyze the activities of the Cornish Gem PH 819. The analysis revealed that the vessel had been operating within the Cornwall IFCA district during prohibited hours on several occasions. As a result, three events were chosen for prosecution, backed by VMS evidence and supported by logbook, landings, and sales data. These events occurred on December 9 and 16, 2022, and February 9, 2023.

Sarah-Jane Fishing Ltd had been investigated by Cornwall Sea Fisheries Committee and Cornwall IFCA on three prior occasions for scallop dredging-related offenses. Two of these investigations led to court proceedings in which the company pleaded guilty, and on one occasion, they accepted a caution.

Simon Cadman, Cornwall IFCA’s Principal Enforcement Officer, emphasized the importance of the scallop curfew, stating that it exists to protect scallop stocks, which face heavy fishing pressure. Scallops are a sought-after and economically significant species, and adherence to bylaws designed to conserve them and maintain sustainable fishing levels is crucial. Cadman expressed his disappointment in individuals who disregard the law for short-term gain and fishing vessel owners who neglect their responsibility to ensure legal operations. He hopes that the sentences imposed by the Magistrates will encourage both the skipper and owner to operate their fishing business in full compliance with regulations aimed at protecting marine life and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the fishing industry.

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