Marinet’s concerns confirmed: Dutch trawler keeps rewards of illegal haul

Sea Fish Magazine reports, 11th March 2015: “It has been reported that the owner of a Cornelis Vrolijk super-trawler, caught fishing illegally in south-west England, has been allowed to sell its haul for £437,000 while being fined a fraction of the profits, The Times reports.

“The Frank Bonefaas was found to be carrying 632,000 kilos of mackerel that it had caught in a protected area off south-west England, where fishing is restricted.

“The British Royal Navy boarded the 120m trawler in March last year and found the illegal haul, the biggest detected in recent years. The mackerel is all believed to have been caught inside the protected area, reports.

“The master and owner of the trawler pleaded guilty last Friday at Bodmin magistrates’ court in Cornwall. They were fined £97,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000. This is a net difference of £335, 000, still in the hands of the perpetrators.

“The Marine Management Organisation (MMO), the government agency which brought the prosecution, admitted yesterday that Cornelis Vrolijk, the Dutch company that owns the trawler, had been allowed to keep the catch.

“A spokeswoman said that the MMO had invited the court to consider imposing a fine that would match the full value of the haul, but it had chosen not to do so. The decision to allow the retention of 75% (minima) of an illegal haul has sparked debate as to whether this was now an invitation to copycat acts, whereby the likely fines would be a weak deterrent.

“Since the story has broken, social media has been ablaze with outrage from the angling community, as the contempt shown towards law, fish stocks and the apparent lack of judicial commitment flies in the face of conservation efforts.

“The Frank Bonefaas is a super-trawler that controls almost a quarter of England’s fish quota, said the Times.

“Teresa Portmann, a marine consultant, said that the MMO’s estimate of the value of the mackerel found on the Frank Bonefaas was conservative and that the haul could have been worth more than £750,000.

Source: Sea Fishing Magazine, 11th March 2015. For the full text, see:

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