A diver has been fined £3,750 after being caught at Beadnell with a bag of undersized lobsters, which he claimed were for a marine display.
Trevor Bankhead, 48, of Rogerstone Terrace, Spennymoor, County Durham, was stopped in the Northumberland village in September last year.
He was carrying a cleeking stick – a device used to catch lobsters from under rocks – as well as a black bag, which contained 10 lobsters, all of which were below the minimum permitted legal size of 87mm carapace (the hard upper shell of a crustacean) length.
It is also an offence for anyone to take more than one lobster per day in the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) district without a commercial shellfish permit from NIFCA.
Bankhead, who pleaded guilty to the offences, said that he was unaware of the restrictions. He added that he had taken the lobsters because he loves the sea and wanted to create a marine display for his daughter.
At North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court last month, Bankhead was ordered to pay a total of £1,996 for both offences and prosecution costs of £1,754.
NIFCA chief inshore fishery and conservation officer Al Browne said: “This case and the sentence passed sends out a clear message and NIFCA, its officers and members remain determined that illegal activity will be prevented.
“The lobster stocks in Northumberland are of vital importance to our marine environment and this authority appreciates the recognition by the court of the need to protect this vitally important stock.
“It is vital that everyone who wishes to fish for and take shellfish realises the legal limits.”