MMO Prosecution Lands Owner and Master With £14,380 Penalty
Prosecution brought by Marine Management Organisation (MMO) was heard at Plymouth Magistrates Court on 20 March 2023
The owner and the master of France-registered fishing vessel Felir SB918511 were fined a total of £8,000 and ordered to pay £6000 in costs plus £380 in victim surcharges by Plymouth magistrates.
The financial penalties were imposed after the vessel’s owner Felir SAS and master Ludovic Fourgault admitted using fishing gear to which was attached a device, namely a piece of diamond-shaped mesh placed over the square mesh panel, that obstructed or otherwise diminished the mesh size of part of the towed gear.
The court heard the diamond shape mesh was non-compliant as it was other than a device prescribed by Commission Regulation (EEC) No 3440/84, contrary to s.30(1) Fisheries Act 1981 as read with article 8(4) of Regulation (EU) 2019/1241 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
Magistrates were told MMO Marine Officers spotted the illegal net on a routine inspection at sea on 12 September 2020 approximately 40 miles south of Lizard Point.
Prosecutors told the court that the vessel was detained to Plymouth harbour and an investigation at the quayside uncovered a second net with a similar illegal device on its square mesh panel.
This discovery demonstrated that the complete catch aboard the vessel had been caught illegally, the court was told.
The defendants’ lawyer said this was a first offence and that the company and master had taken steps to ensure there was no repeat of the non-compliance.
The court was told that the vessel’s detention in Plymouth had cost the company £100,000 in lost fishing time.
In addition to the penalties imposed by the court, the defendant’s faced a cost of £45,000 in legal fees plus several thousand pounds for dock fees in Plymouth.