The court heard that the Stella Polaris UK22 was inspected on 10 October 2014 by the Navy fisheries enforcement vessel HMS Mersey some 40 miles south-east of Shoreham. The total catch of 16 tonnes of mixed species, including 13 tonnes of haddock, was investigated and the vessel was detained to the port of Shoreham. The vessel was released on payment of a bond to allow time for the investigation to continue.
The vessel Master, Mr Paulus Romkes, and the company which owns the vessel, Adriaantje Holdings BV (a Dutch registered company) were later charged with four offences:
• Failing to record accurate details of area and date of capture of a quantity of haddock
• Failing to comply with catch composition rules
• Failing to complete an accurate logbook in relation to smooth-hounds
• Failing to submit an accurate landing declaration
Guilty pleas to all offences were entered by both the owner and the master. Having heard the facts and the defendants’ mitigation, the Chair of the Bench said that the master should know the rules in the areas he fished and that ignorance of those rules was not an excuse for offending.
The Master was fined a total of £4,589.25 including a victim surcharge of £48.00.
The owning company was fined a total of £42,821.25 including a victim surcharge of £200.00.
The Bench made it clear that the fines to the company included a fine of £24,126 to the value of the catch.