October 2019: Successful prosecution for various scallop offences

Posted on 13th November 2019

On 19 September 2019, at Bodmin Magistrates Court, Cornwall IFCA successfully prosecuted the master, Mr David Thomas (32) of 9 Kiln Close Plymouth, and owners, Zaranathax Ltd Fowey, of the scallop dredging vessel Kinsman PH574 for nine fisheries offences. The offences were five counts of fishing in a prohibited area (Start Point to Plymouth Sound and Eddystone SAC) and four counts of fishing in the district at a prohibited time of day. The owners entered a guilty plea, however, the skipper failed to attend the hearing and no plea was entered.


On 8 October 2019, Truro Magistrates sentenced Zaranathax Ltd to a fine of £13,070 and Mr Thomas to £24,300 for the fishing offences in the Cornwall IFCA district, plus a further £4,011.50 and £8,023 costs respectively, which were to be split between the Cornwall IFCA and Devon & Severn IFCA who brought separate charges for offences in its district that were dealt with at the same time.


This is the second time Cornwall IFCA has successfully prosecuted Mr Thomas for the offence of fishing in closed areas, the previous case being in September 2016 which, together with a charge for retaining undersized scallops, led to the owners and Mr Thomas being issued fines and costs totalling £10,987.


The prosecution took several months to reach a conclusion, largely as a result of Mr Thomas failing to abide by his summonses to appear in court. 


Cornwall IFCA regularly monitors the UK remote fishing vessel monitoring system, to check on the locations of fishing vessels within its district.  Officers noticed that tracks of the Kinsman PH574 from 8 to 9 January 2019 showed that it had been in an area where scallop dredging is prohibited by a Cornwall IFCA byelaw. On 10 January 2019, IFCA officers on board the Cornwall IFCA patrol vessel Saint Piran proceeded to the Eddystone area off Plymouth to monitor the area.  When they suspected a vessel may be using bottom towed gear within a prohibit area, officers launched the boarding vessel to investigate.  They encountered and boarded the Kinsman PH574, towing scallop dredges within a prohibited area, with Mr Thomas as its master.  He was informed of the suspected fishing offences and officers recorded vital evidence for use in the Authority’s investigation into the vessel.  During several days that followed this event, officers continued to observe VMS and noted that the Kinsman PH574 continued to occasionally enter prohibited areas at speeds indicative of towing scallop dredges.


Scallops are an important target species for many fishermen working within the Cornwall IFCA district, but where the use of bottom towed gear presents a significant risk to animals, plants and habitats which are considered rare, special or threatened within Europe, the activity is prohibited within certain European Marine Sites.  There is other legislation designed to conserve inshore scallop stocks, including limiting the daily time that fishermen can dredge for scallops to between 07:00hrs and 19:00hrs.


Simon Cadman, the Cornwall IFCA Principal Enforcement Officer said, “It is always disappointing to have repeat prosecutions against the same individual, especially for the same offence. I hope the significant fines handed down by the Court will lead Mr Thomas to fish according to fisheries legislation that protects important marine areas and provides for sustainable fishing. It is most important for owners of fishing vessels to be aware of the potential consequences, should masters of their vessels fail to comply with the law”.

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