Boat owner and skipper fined for fishing offences

Coquet Island. Picture by Jane Coltman
Coquet Island. Picture by Jane Coltman

Two men have each been fined more than £1,000 for fishing offences off the Northumberland coast, near Coquet Island.

Douglas Lennox, 54, of Broadway, Blyth, and Steven Marson, 46, of Barnston, North Seaton – owner and skipper respectively of commercial fishing vessel Northern Pride BK64, pleaded guilty to breaching two Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) by-laws.

On October 26, 2017, and acting on intelligence, Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officers inspected two strings of pots used to catch shellfish.

On closer inspection, both strings of pots were found to be ‘unmarked’, contrary to NIFCA By-law 5 – Marking of Fishing Gear and Keep Boxes.

Officers also discovered that the pair had also breached NIFCA By-law 4 – Crustacea and Molluscs Permitting and Pot Limitation.

Under the provisions of By-law 4, tags should be attached to each individual pot, creel, trap or cage. These tags are issued by the NIFCA in accordance with the vessel’s permit to fish and, therefore, if pots, creels, traps or cages are utilised without a tag, it could mean that excess fishing gear is being used over and above what is permitted.

A string of pots is marked in accordance with By-law 5 to ensure it is visible and to prevent the pots being a hazard to other sea users.

Magistrates at North Tyneside imposed the highest possible band of fine, with Lennox and Marson both required to pay £1,618, including NIFCA’s costs of investigation, legal costs and victim surcharge.

NIFCA chief officer Alastair Browne said: “The court clearly took these breaches seriously.”