Fisherman fined after landing 13 tonnes of illegal scallops
July 12 2013 Lewis Smith
The owner and master of scallop dredger has been ordered by a court to pay more than £25,000 after landing 13 tonnes of undersized shellfish.
It is one of the largest finds of illegal scallops made by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and was described by a senior official as “very serious”.
Robert Johnston was ordered to pay a £20,000 fine and more than £5,000 in legal costs for landing the undersized scallops.
His vessel, Jacoba (PZ 307) which is more than 37 metres long and was built in 1975, was found with £17,000-worth undersized scallops after operating in the eastern section of the English Channel.
Inspectors from the MMO in Shoreham found that 13 tonnes of the catch, almost half the total, were under the minimum landing size of 110mm.
Paul Johnston, of the MMO, said: "We consider this to be a very serious undersized scallop case, one of the largest by volume and proportion that the Marine Management Organisation has detected.
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"Scallops are of significant value to the fishing industry, particularly in Shoreham, with minimum landing sizes existing to help conserve fish stocks.
"We recognise that the majority of fishermen abide by these rules however we are committed to enforcing regulations to help ensure a sustainable future for species and the fishing industry."
The £20,000 fine was imposed by Lewes Crown Court on Johnston as the owner of the vessel, which he bought in 2010. A nominal £1 fine was imposed on him as the master. Guilty pleas were entered at Brighton Magistrates' Court where the justices decided the illegal landing was so serious that they passed it to the Crown Court for sentencing.
Shoreham is England’s most important port for scallops with landings worth £8.7 million being made there by UK vessels in 2011. Scallops account for about 80 per cent of the port’s landings.
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