Two Northern Ireland fishermen have been fined £6,500 for breaching Manx King Scallop regulations

Two Northern Ireland fishermen have been fined £6,500 for breaching Manx King Scallop regulations

Two fishermen from Northern Ireland have been fined £6,500 each for breaching Manx king scallops fishing regulations.

Stephen Shiels is the master and co-owner of the vessel ’Nimrod’ while Basil Wills is a co-owner.

The duo, whose ages were not given in court, both pleaded guilty to the offence which involved them fishing in a prohibited area, reports the IOM Today.

The maximum fine for the offence is £100,000.

Prosecuting advocate Rebecca Cubbon told the court how Sea Fisheries Officers saw the Nimrod sailing from Port Erin towards Peel on January 20, 2020, at 1.30pm.

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Trackers showed that they were fishing in a closed conservation area. Their electronic identification system was not in operation while they were in the closed area but then became active after they left it.

Fisheries officers boarded the vessel and told them that they had spent six and a half hours in the closed area but the crew seemed surprised.

They docked in Port St Mary and a check of their navigation plotting system showed it was incorrectly set.

Shiels, who lives at Crew Road, Ardglass, Downpatrick, attended a voluntary interview at DEFA headquarters and admitted the offence, saying it was a genuine mistake as their plotter had not been set correctly.

Wills, who lives at Downs Road, Ardglass, Downpatrick, declined to attend an interview, saying that he was not on board the boat at the time.

Defence advocate Peter Taylor, representing Shiels, said that his client had co-operated fully with DEFA and had been a fisherman for 30 years. Mr Taylor said that the incident had resulted in their fishing licence being withdrawn for three months after the offence occurred, which was now 18 months ago.

The advocate said that there was a scientific research officer on board the Nimrod at the time so there was no way they would have deliberately committed the offence.

He added that there was no legal requirement to have the identification system switched on and it was common to turn it off while fishing so that other vessels would not immediately head to the same location.

Michael Mudge, representing Wills, said that his client had since updated the equipment.

Deputy High Bailiff James Brooks gave the two men 28 days to pay.

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Northern Ireland fishermen fined for breaching Manx King Scallop laws

by editor time to read: 6 min