It is encouraging that the MMO are routinely succeeding in their enforcement activities. This fine arose from 13 breaches which begs the question of why so many were allowed before there was legal intervention? For anyone thinking that Brexit and fisheries will be easy just look at the complexity of ownership by a Dutch company with a Dutch master.
Vessel owner and master plead guilty to fishing offences at North Tyneside Magistrates Court on 7 June 2017 in case brought by MMO.
On 7 June 2017 Kafish B.V. a Dutch company which owns the UK registered trawler Margriet LT36 and its master, Dutch national Peter Kuyt, pleaded guilty to 13 breaches of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 and the Fisheries Act 1981 at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
The court heard that during two separate investigations carried out by the MMO, Vessel Monitoring System data and logbook entries identified that the vessel had committed numerous offences between 2016 and 2017.
The first investigation showed that in 2016 the vessel had, on three occasions committed offences of fishing within a seasonal closure area and on one occasion fishing in a real time closure area.
The second investigation revealed that in 2017 a further eight offences of fishing within a seasonal closure area and another offence of failing to keep an accurate logbook were committed between January and March.
Sentencing the owner and master, District Judge Sarah-Jane Griffiths said “You have acknowledged that these were serious offences and it is surprising to me that after the offences in 2016 were brought to your attention in June you committed a further 8 offences. To me it is clear that by that time at least you knew you shouldn’t have been in those areas.”
Despite being registered in the UK and, therefore, being required to comply with a UK fishing licence, the vessel is owned by Kafish B.V., a Dutch company. They were fined £66,000, with an additional fine of £80,000 to cover the value of the fish illegally caught, £3,500 costs and a victim surcharge of £170. The vessel master, a Dutch national named Peter Kuyt, was fined £8,536.33 with an additional fine of £15,000 to cover the value of the fish illegally caught, £741 costs and a victim surcharge of £170.