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United Kingdom: Vessel Owner Fined for Overfishing

(Dec. 20, 2016) A recent inspection of a fishing vessel by the Marine Management Organisation of the United Kingdom found approximately 2.65 metric tons of undersized scallops (110 millimeters or smaller), which totaled  8.09 % of the catch of the vessel.  (Master and Owner Fined £21,746 for Fisheries Offences, Marine Management Organisation  (Dec. 14, 2016).)  Fisheries legislation provides that fishermen must only retain fish above a certain size in order to ensure the replenishment of stocks and, in the case of scallops, “scallops measuring less than 110 millimetres may not be carried by a British fishing boat that has fished in both ICES division VIId and ICES division VIIe during a single fishing trip.”  (The Scallop Fishing (England) Order 2012, SI 2012/2283, ¶ 5, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK.)  ICES is the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas, an international organization that uses science and provides advice to “support the sustainable use of the oceans.”  (Who We Are, ICES website (last visited Dec. 19, 2016).)

The master and the owner of the fishing vessel were prosecuted for the catch in the Magistrates’ Court, which fined the master of the vessel £1,400 (about US$1,780), with a statutory “victim surcharge” (a penalty that must be imposed, with the amount varying) of £100 (about US$127), and court costs of £150 (about US$190).  The owner of the vessel was fined a further £16,409 (about US$21,000) and £3,567 (about US$4,500) in costs, along with a victim surcharge of £120 about US$150). (Master and Owner Fined £21,746 for Fisheries Offence, supra.)

The Marine Management Organisation provided a statement that the impact of the undersized catch on the stock of scallops was potentially considerable, and that enforcing the law not only prevented this particular vessel from profiting from its violation but also demonstrated to other fishermen that the agency takes the offense seriously.  (Id.)