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Fish Scammers Fined £200,000

Jan 07,2009 SACN


"The judge sentencing the 14 condemned the "well-organised deception" whereby skippers at Newlyn, West Cornwall, recorded landed fish under other species to beat the quota system. "

Full Story in

Western Morning News

Herald Express

The Telegraph

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Press release

Marine and Fisheries Agency (Communications)
Area 6C, 3-8 Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2HH
Tel: 020 7270 1985

 

Date: 06/01/2009  Reference: 01/09

 

Skippers, Owners and Auctioneer in Newlyn Black Fish Scam ordered to pay £188,000

The owners and skippers of six Newlyn fishing vessels who deliberately over-fished protected fish stocks for financial gain and an auctioneer who sold their fish were ordered to pay a total of £188,450 in fines and costs by a judge at Truro Crown Court on January 6th 2009.

 

Fishing netThe owners and skippers had been convicted following two earlier court hearings in 2006 and 2007 of a total of 114 specimen charges of failing to submit landing declarations that accurately indicated the quantities of each species landed.

The deception related to illegal landings of fish between April to September 2002. The specimen charges totalled fish to the value of £141,000.

 

Fish auctioneers, the partnership of W. Stevenson and Sons, of Newlyn which was also convicted of failing to supply accurate sales notes of the fish is subject to confiscation proceedings under the Criminal Justice Act 1988. They face confiscation of any assets acquired through illegal fish trading. Those proceedings are still ongoing.

 

The partnership’s auctioneer Julian Bick, 44, of Newlyn who was convicted at Truro Crown Court in October 2006 of four counts of aiding and abetting W. Stevenson & Sons was fined a total of £12,000 with £6000 costs.

 

The boats targeted and landed high value quota species of fish such as cod, hake and anglerfish but then mis-described them on documents supplied to Defra as non-quota species like ling, turbot and bass.

 

The court heard it was a deliberate well organised deception to avoid the quota restrictions which aim to protect fish stocks and allow fishermen to take their fair share.

 

Instead, the scam allowed vessels’ owners to maximise their profits because they did not have to buy or lease in the quota for the species they had actually caught ��" even though it was available throughout the investigation period.

 

The six vessels were: The Carol H; the Ajax; Girl Patricia; Ben Loyal; Ben My Chree and CKS.

Owners of the Carol H, Barney Thomas, 56, Cynthia Thomas, 54, of St Ives and their skipper Philip Mitchell,39, of Newlyn were fined £10,500 each for seven counts of submitting false landing declarations and ordered to pay £34,000 total costs.

 

Owners of the Ajax, Barney Thomas, 56 and Cynthia Thomas, 54, of St Ives were fined £8000 each and their skipper Raymond Knight, 62, of Manaccan £2400 on eight counts of submitting false landing declarations. Total costs were £2400.

 

Owners of Girl Patrica, Leonard Williams,72,of Newlyn and his skipper Arthur Williams, 47, of Newlyn were fined a total of £9000 each on nine counts of submitting false landing declarations. Total costs were £14,000.

 

Owners of the Ben Loyal, Donald Turtle, 83, of Newlyn and Joan Turtle, 72, of Newlyn were fined £3300 each and their skipper John Turtle, 47, of Heamor was fined £11,000 for eleven counts of submitting false landing declarations. Total costs were £6150.

 

Owners of the Ben My Chree, Jonathan Hicks, 50 and Doreen Hicks, 83, of Newlyn were fined £2000 each and their skipper James Hicks, 54, of Newlyn was fined £4000 on four counts of submitting false landing declarations. Total costs were £7000.

 

Skipper of the CKS, Drew Davies, 40, of Goldsithney, was fined a total of £6000 on six counts of submitting false landing declarations. Costs were £7400.

 

After the case a senior MFA spokesman said: “This was an environmental and financial crime. Quota was available for these species of fish throughout the investigation period.

 

"This deception was done for financial gain - not to avoid discarding fish. And these activities both endangered fish stocks and penalised legal fishermen by depressing prices.

 

"The investigation by fishery officers was detailed and painstaking due to the well organised nature of this deception. The defendants denied their offending to the last moment which led to protracted legal proceedings."

Notes to Editors

The Marine and Fisheries Agency is an executive agency of Defra which is tasked with service delivery, inspection, and enforcement of the fishing industry and other marine users in England and Wales.

 

The MFA has overall responsibility for the enforcement of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and its associated regulations within the 60,000 square miles of English and Welsh waters.

Any vessel, regardless of size or nationality, fishing in British waters is subject to inspection which is designed to conserve fish stocks and protect the interests of the fishing industry as a whole.

 

MFA's key objectives are:

·         to be a key partner in the management of marine fisheries

·         to enforce regulations, professionally, consistently and fairly

·         to contribute to the sustainable use of the marine environment

·         to provide specialist information to inform the development of policy and its effective implementation.

 

MFA press contact: Peter Hooley 0207-270-1985 / 07771-505-655



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