William Paul Chapman, master and owner of unlicensed vessels Spirt and Last Minute, was sentenced at Bodmin Magistrates Court on 12 April 2018 in a prosecution brought by the MMO.
The court heard about a joint patrol that was conducted on 15 September 2016 by MMO and Environment Agency (EA) officers around the Camel Estuary in Cornwall, a Bass Nursery Area (BNA) where fishing is prohibited between 1 May and 30 November in any year. The officers observed one vessel fishing within the BNA and two men transferring items to a second vessel.
When that vessel returned to shore officers identified themselves to one of the men, Chapman, who subsequently left the scene. The fish box left behind was found to contain 10 bass, two of which were below the minimum conservation size. Three nets and anchors used in the fishing operation were also found on the vessel.
Chapman pleaded guilty to three offences relating to the catching of the bass and was ordered to pay total of £1,000 fine and £1,000 costs.
A spokesperson for the MMO said:
Bass conservation is very important and this case highlights the benefits of joint patrols between MMO and EA.
In cases like these MMO will always take proportionate and appropriate action, including prosecution, to ensure offenders do not profit from such illegal activity and to protect fish stocks for the wider fishing industry and future generations.
Chris Hitchings, EA Fisheries Enforcement Officer said:
We regularly work with the MMO and pool our resources enabling us to better protect sea fish and migratory fish from illegal capture. We hope that this result will serve as a deterrent to others seeking to fish illegally.