Skipper fined for fishing bylaw breach

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An Eyemouth fishermen has been fined £3,750, plus £3,040 costs, after he pleaded guilty at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court to five breaches of a fishing bylaw.

Owner and master of the Eyemouth based fishing boat Immanuel V11, Trevor Spouse admitted using mobile fishing gear while fishing for scallops within the English section of the Berwickshire and North Northumberland coast special area of conservation.

The offences took place on five occasions at the end of April and early May 2016 and were detected via the 16.4m vessel’s monitoring system, a satellite monitoring system all fishing vessels over 12m in length are required to have fitted.

Mr Spouse, of Spiers Place, Eyemouth, had been hit with a financial administrative penalty of £1,000 from Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority for a fishing offence in 2015, the court was told.

The court heard that Mr Spouse has a permit to dredge for scallops in the authority’s district and was aware of his obligations under a bylaw prohibiting the use of mobile fishing gear in the English section of the area of conservtion.

The bylaw was introduced to protect rocky reefs, a designated feature within the site, from any mobile fishing gear which can come into contact with the seabed.

Passing sentence, the district judge said he took account of the size of the catch, valued at about £25,000 for the five fishing trips made by Mr Spouse.

However, the judge also took account of expenses including paying a crew, which comes from the sale of the vessel’s catch.

The judge added that although Mr Spouse’s actions were deliberate, it was not possible to assess the extent of the harm which the fishing activity caused.

He also noted that Mr Spouse had no previous convictions, he had put measures in place to prevent any repetition of offending, and had tendered a guilty plea at the first opportunity, for which the judge applied a one-third discount to the fine.

The authority’s Mark Southerton said: “Officers closely scrutinise vessel’s monitoring systems to ensure regulations are being complied with and also to ensure that the activity of vessels is legal at all times, including during the night and at weekends.

“This case should give confidence to fisherman acting legitimately and the wider public that everything is being done to ensure fishing activity is conducted within the law and that action will be taken in the event of illegal activity.”