Manx court imposes £20k fine and 12-month ban on Fleetwood boat

The owner of the Fleetwood-based whelker Julia Ann PD 5 has been fined £20,000 for retaining undersized whelks in Manx waters.

This follows a £35,000 fine for the skipper of the boat, Dinars Lugan, which was levied after a court appearance last November, three days after the offence was detected.

The penalty also included a 12-month suspension of the vessel’s licence to fish for whelk in the Manx Territorial Sea.

The skipper was fined £25,000 for a similar offence when operating the vessel Prosperity FD 573 in December 2018. In October 2015, the owner of the Julia Ann was fined £10,000 for retention of undersized whelks on the vessel Anne Mary B FD 536.

Julia Ann FD 5 fishing in Manx waters. The vessel’s licence was suspended for 12 months following a guilty plea for retaining undersized whelks last November. (Photo: Darren Purves)

The latest case had been adjourned so that financial information on the company could be provided, to allow the court to assess the appropriate level of fine. This was provided for the hearing by the defence advocate, who also entered a guilty plea on behalf of vessel owner B&M Fishing LLP, which is also based in Fleetwood.

Commenting on the need for two separate hearings, High Bailiff Jayne Hughes, who took the case, said it would have been more appropriate if the company and skipper had been dealt with at the same time.

The prosecution followed a routine boarding on 22 November last year, when undersized whelks were found retained on deck.

The vessel was taken to Douglas harbour for a more detailed inspection, where 4,188 whelks below the MLS of 75mm were found, out of 21,513 inspected – a rate of nearly 19.5%.

During an interview, vessel owner Andrew Bynam said that the crew had been rushing the riddling process, which should have separated out the whelks that were undersized.

B&M Fishing’s defence advocate asked for credit to be given for the guilty plea and the co-operation of the company, which he said had promptly paid Mr Lugan’s £35,000 fine in full for him, so essentially it would be receiving a double penalty.

Speaking in November, Manx minister for environment, food and agriculture Clare Barber said: “The department is committed to ensuring the conservation of fishing in the Isle of Man.

“This detention and subsequent conviction gives a clear message to vessels operating within Manx Territorial Waters that they must all abide by the regulations, to maintain a fishery that will be viable and sustainable for all.”

This story was taken from the latest issue of Fishing News. For more up-to-date and in-depth reports on the UK and Irish commercial fishing sector, subscribe to Fishing News here or buy the latest single issue for just £3.30 here

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