Newbiggin fisherman fined for failing to return 179 undersized lobsters to the sea

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A commercial fisherman has been fined for two breaches of national fisheries legislation.

Charles ‘Michael’ Denton of Atlee Terrace, Newbiggin, appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates Court to face charges relating to an incident in July 2022 when he failed to return 179 lobsters to the sea that were below the minimum landing size.

The case was brought by the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) who manage the inshore fishery.

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During the trial, Elizabeth Rowley of Andrew Jackson Solicitors, prosecuting on behalf of NIFCA, informed the court that on July 18, 2022 Mr Denton, owner/skipper of the commercial fishing vessel Talisman II BK176, was observed at sea by two Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officers (IFCO’s) setting conspicuous plastic boxes along with lobster pots off the coast of Cambois before returning to the port of Blyth.

North Tyneside Magistrates' Court.North Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
North Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

The two officers were able to recover these boxes and found 168 lobsters that measured beneath the minimum conservation reference size stored inside.

In between these two events, Mr Denton landed the remainder of his day’s catch to a wholesaler in Blyth,.

Officers inspected this catch and also found 11 lobsters that measured beneath the same conservation reference size.

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Mr Denton pleaded not guilty to the first offence of failing to immediately return 168 lobsters to the sea and guilty to the second of failing to return to the sea and landing 11 lobsters.

The bench found Mr Denton guilty of the first offence.

He was told to pay a fine of £1,000, a further £1,000 in prosecution cost and a victim surcharge of £400.

Nick Weir, lead enforcement officer for NIFCA, said: “The Authority is pleased that the court recognises the importance of national fisheries legislation, Mr Denton’s disregard for legislation designed to protect fish stocks is absolutely unacceptable.

"By preventing these lobsters reaching maturity and spawning he has endangered the long-term sustainability of the fishery affecting the entire fishing community.

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“Fishing in Northumberland is an economically sensitive activity and of great social importance to our local heritage and character.

"Our byelaws in conjunction with national legislation, balance the social, environmental and economic needs of our stakeholders to promote healthy seas, sustainable fishing and a viable industry.”