Two Spanish fishing firms have been handed some of the largest fines in British maritime history by a Truro court. It follows an investigation into log book fraud.
The two companies and their two skippers deliberately disguised the amount of fish they were catching. They've been fined more than one point six million pounds. The judge said the crime involved "flagrant, repeated and long term abuse of EU fishing regulations".
They were caught off the Cornish coast. Kathy Wardle reports.
MMO's reaction to the record fine for fisheries offences
We are pleased that the court has recognised the seriousness of these offences.
This company systematically abused the quota system for significant and unfair financial gain, threatening the future sustainability of an already vulnerable fish stock and impacting on the businesses of legitimate fishermen by flooding the market with cheaper fish.
The majority of the fishing industry is compliant with the rules that govern its commercial activities, but we will ensure that those who aren’t do not enjoy unfair financial advantage from illegal sales.
– Danny Poulding, Senior Investigating Officer, Marine Management Organisation
A court has ordered a Spanish fishing company, its UK subsidiary and their captains to pay a total of £1.62 million for serious fisheries offences.
This is the highest court order amount ever imposed in a Marine Management Organisation (MMO) fisheries case.
Truro Crown Court handed down the sentence in relation to illegal overfishing of ling and hake, a particularly vulnerable fish stock, between 2009 and 2010 by two fishing vessels – the Spanish-registered Coyo Tercero and UK-registered O’Genita.
Charges brought by the MMO included providing false entries in logbooks and failing to record trans-shipments.
The defendants – masters of the vessels, Jose Antonio Perez Garcia (Coyo Tercero) and Jose Manuel Martinez Sanchez (O’Genita), and the owning companies pleaded guilty to charges at an earlier hearing in Truro on 5 April 2012.