Illegal fishing fine reduced for Brixham trawler firm
A judge has slashed fines on a trawler company that ran a scalloper which caught under-size shellfish.
Amy R Trawlers, which operates the eponymous 45-foot Brixham-based boat, will now have to pay only £8,015 of the £17,015 they were originally fined by magistrates in Torquay.
Recorder Mr Kevin de Haan, QC, reduced the fine on appeal to the same level imposed on the boat's master, Brixham fisherman Martyn Rogers.
The company appealed to Exeter Crown Court after being hit by large fines for three offences which were uncovered by officers from the Devon Sea Fisheries Committee in November and December 2010.
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The investigation started when 52 under-size scallops worth £103.22 were found in the catch which the Amy R landed at Brixham on October 26, 2010.
Checks on Mr Rogers' paperwork revealed two offences of failing to submit his log on time on one day and not submitting it at all on another.
Rogers, of Victoria Road, Brixham, and the company, of New Street, Brixham, both admitted retaining under-sized scallops and two logbook offences.
In the original Marine Management Organisation prosecution, Rogers was fined a total of £8,000 and the company £17,000, each with a £15 victim surcharge with costs of £8,055 split equally.
Recorder Mr de Haan allowed the appeal and reduced the company's fines.
He said he could see no reason why they had been treated more harshly than Rogers, who had direct control over the scalloper and took a share of the profits.
He said the company had no chance to put its case to the Marine Management Organisation because they believed mistakenly that Rogers controlled it.
He said: "All in all, we take the view the regulatory objective can properly be achieved by imposing the same penalties on the company as were applied to the master."
During a day-long appeal earlier this month, the Judge heard how the trawler company had made a profit of £81,892 in the year up to October 2010, up from £43,997 the previous year.
The prosecution claimed the Amy R's total annual catch was worth more than £1 million but the defence insisted it was much lower because much had been landed at Plymouth, then moved by road to Brixham, meaning it was double-counted.