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Anglers concerned at light sentence for Newlyn commercial fishermen

Jun 22,2009 SACN



Angling Trust Media Release

For immediate release
June 22nd 2009
Angling Trust, the voice of angling  
 
  Anglers concerned at light sentence for Newlyn commercial fishermen

The Angling Trust has reacted with dismay to the judgement passed by Judge Phillip Wassal when he gave a two-year conditional discharge instead of a fine to Newlyn-based W Stevenson and Sons at Exeter Crown Court . The company was convicted on eight charges of dealing in “black fish” . This involves putting fish which are subject to quota through the books as other species of fish which are not subject to quota. It pled guilty to another 37 charges.

In respect of this judgement our impression from previous cases is that a conditional discharge is in reality identified as a let off. In the past eighteen months the MFA has had 22 major prosecutions in respect of the same or similar breaches of the regulations. These have resulted in fines totalling £22.63 million. This averages £1 million per prosecution in fines alone. This only compounds the decision in the Newlyn case and indicates the degree that the regulations are being abused. This systemic abuse comes at a time when European fish stocks are at an all time low and the sustainability is in serious question. The implications of this recent judgement are far reaching and in effect give commercial fishermen the impression that they can now break fishing regulations in the knowledge that they will not face serious sanctions.

We feel strongly that this endangers the interests of fish stocks and the future of recreational and commercial fishing in the UK.

The commercial fishing industry is in receipt of in excess of £100milion in EU and Government grants. This consists of grants for research and decommissioning vessels etc. In fact the Stevensons recently received £92K for decommissioning two vessels. On the other hand the rereational sea angling sector contributes £538 million to the economy and supports 19,000 jobs but get no grants or financial support from the EU or Government.

Recreational sea angling is a sustainable way of catching fish, as it does not involve trawling which kills undersized fish and can damage the sea bed so much that the whole ecosystem’s productivity is destroyed. Only fish which are required for personal consumption are taken by recreational anglers. The commercial fishing has made some progress to improve its environmental performance, but there is still widespread damage being caused and illegal fishing is common.

We would recommend that all anglers ��" Trust members or not ��" should write to Marine and Fisheries Agency's Chief Executive, Nigel Gooding and urge MFA to lodge an appeal as soon as possible so the case can be reviewed.

Details of how to do this and a sample letter to use will be available on our web site shortly - www.anglingtrust.net.

Western Morning News



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