The skipper and owner of Irish trawler Ocean Venture II S-121 have been fined a total of £55,842.47 at Exeter Magistrates Court for fisheries offences in a prosecution brought by the Marine Management Organisation.
The court heard that Ocean Venture II sailed from Castletownbere on 17th May 2019 and on 22nd May was boarded by MMO marine enforcement officers from Ocean Osprey. The subsequent inspection identified seven offences relating to inaccurate catch recording and the codends used. The skipper also failed to produce a stowage plan.
Ocean Venture II was using two trawls, each with double codends, and during the trip fished in areas forming the Hake Recovery Zone, the Biologically Sensitive Area and the Celtic Sea Square Mesh Panel Area.
The skipper and owner pleaded guilty to all charges. Ocean Venture II Fishing Ltd was fined a total of £51,204.99, ordered to pay £1884.15 in costs and a £170 victim surcharge. Skipper Michael Harrington was fined £1813.33, and ordered to pay £600 in costs and a £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 vital that these restrictions are followed,’ an MMO spokesperson said.
‘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.’