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Devon trawlermen convicted of multiple fishing offences

DEFRA News release

10th November 2005  
The master and owners of a Brixham beam trawler have been convicted of multiple fishing offences.

Norris Brothers (South West) Ltd, owners of 30 metre trawler The Centaur, and the vessel's master, Malcolm Sharpe, of Brixham, were found guilty on 14 counts of failing to fully record catches of fish and one count of illegally fishing inside the 12 mile limit.  Mr Sharpe and the boat's mate Barry Stockton, also from Brixham, also pleaded guilty to obstructing naval officers during a routine fisheries inspection.

Plymouth magistrates heard how officers from the Royal Navy fisheries patrol vessel HMS Lindisfarne were subjected to abuse after boarding The Centaur.  Mr Sharpe and Mr Stockton were accused of trying to obstruct the officers after the Navy found an unofficial black log book, subsequently used as evidence of illegal fishing.

DEFRA, prosecuting, maintained that the black book was a true record of the boat's catch, while official EC log sheets had been incorrectly completed to deceive the authorities.  The owners and master were subsequently charged with 14 fisheries offences.

Nick Wright, senior fisheries officer from DEFRA’s Marine Fisheries Agency, said: "Boats that take more than their quota are cheating other fishermen.

They reduce fish stocks and quota available to legitimate fishermen; diminish the value of legally landed fish by flooding the market with illegal stock; and reduce the number of mature fish, limiting a species' ability to reproduce.

"Fisheries enforcement is a difficult and demanding job, designed to protect the interests of the fishing industry as a whole.

"The Royal Navy and MFA Inspectors will not tolerate boats that cheat law-abiding fishermen, and our officers will not be intimidated while they carry out their vital work to protect the industry and England's fisheries."

Further information

1. This case was heard at Plymouth Magistrates Court 7- 9 November 2005.

2. Fines and costs were set as follows:

Fines: Norris Brothers - £7,500
Malcolm Sharpe - £900 (£50 for each fisheries offence and £200 for obstruction charge) Barry Stockton - £300 (for obstruction charge)

Costs: Norris Brothers - £5,000
Malcolm Sharpe - £100
Barry Stockton - £100

Total: £13,900

3. Fisheries Charges were brought under the Sea Fisheries Control Regulations 2000.

4. The offences took place in a period up to and including 15 March 2003.

This news release was issued on behalf of DEFRA’s Marine Fisheries Agency by the Government News Network South West

For further information please contact
Wailim Wong on 01752-635053 or 07748-654468.