Net fails to close on law-breaking fishermen
By John Mason, Food and Rural Affairs Correspondent
3rd April 2003
English fishermen can still get away with illegal fishing in areas such as the North Sea despite new measures to protect stocks of cod and other species, the National Audit Office has warned.
Despite new controls, weak enforcement means the chances of vessels being inspected at sea remained remote, while fines imposed on guilty fishermen were too low to be a real deterrent, the NAO said yesterday.
Sir John Bourn, the head of the NAO, said: "The Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has improved the effectiveness of enforcement: for example, by requiring larger vessels to land at designated ports to make it easier to target inspections. The low chance of prosecution and the potentially high gains, however, may encourage illegal catches and the landing of fish, undermining conservation policies."