UK: Fishery Patrol Ship Nets Record-Breaking Catch

Fishery Patrol Ship Nets Record-Breaking Catch

Fishery patrol ship HMS Tyne’s efforts to protect British coastal waters has resulted in a record-breaking fine of £1.62 million against a Spanish fishing company, its UK subsidiary and the masters of two fishing boats.

Royal Navy River-class patrol ships – HMS Tyne, Severn and Mersey – regularly patrol the British coastline protecting the nation’s precious fish stocks against over-fishing and illegal practices. In July 2010 during a routine boarding by HMS Tyne of a fishing vessel off the Isles of Scilly, the ship’s company spotted over 500kg of salted ling not recorded in the logbook on board the Spanish-registered Coyo Tercero, owned by Hijos de Vidal Bandin SA. The Navy ship escorted the fishing boat back to Falmouth where officers of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) took over the investigation.

Once the Coyo Tercero was alongside in Falmouth, the MMO discovered a connection to the UK-registered vessel O’Genita, owned by a British subsidiary company Sealskill Ltd. In August 2010, MMO officers searched the O’Genita while in port in Scotland, revealing extensive illegal boat-to-boat transfers of fish caught in Scottish and Irish waters, which had then been landed into Spain and the UK.

Charges brought by the MMO included false entries in logbooks and failing to record trans-shipments. The defendants – masters of the vessels, Jose Antonio Perez Garcia and Jose Manuel Martinez and the owning companies – pleaded guilty to charges at an earlier hearing in Truro in April this year.

Danny Poulding, senior investigating officer for the MMO, said: “This company systematically abused the quota system for significant and unfair financial gain, threatening the future sustainability of an already vulnerable fish stock and impacting on the businesses of legitimate fishermen by flooding the market with cheaper fish.

We are pleased that the court has recognised the seriousness of these offences.”

The Fishery Protection Squadron is the Royal Navy’s oldest front-line squadron with three ships – HMS Tyne, HMS Severn and HMS Mersey – dedicated to ensuring a sustaining future for fishing around the UK. The fishery limits ofEngland, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland has its own arrangements for fishery protection) extend 200 miles from the coastline and cover 80,000 square miles of sea.

Naval Today Staff, August 1, 2012; Image: Royal Navy