The owner and master of a French vessel fishing in Cornish waters and taken into Newlyn with illegal net modifications have been fined a total of £25,000.
The two men were found guilty at Bodmin Magistrates Court on July 31 in relation to illegal devices - strengthening bags - attached to the fishing netsof L’Alphaver.
The boat, which fishes out of Guilvenec in north west France, was inspected in what is referred to as the Celtic Sea, north west of Cornwall on Monday 30 June by HMS Severn, a Royal Navy fisheries protection vessel, before being detained at Newlyn.
Two offences were identified during the inspection and it was found that the strengthening bags attached to the nets obstructed or otherwise effectively diminished the meshes in the cod end.
The master, Fabrice Pellae of Plozevet, France, was ordered to pay £500 plus a victim surcharge of £50. The owner, Clement Cochou of Plonéour-Lanvern, France, was ordered to pay £1,000 plus a victim surcharge of £100. The court ordered an additional penalty to the value of the catch of £20,000 plus costs of £4059.50.
The fines will be taken from a £75,000 bond which was taken following the vessel's original detention to allow it to return to sea until the case was heard.
A spokesperson for the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which prosecutedt the case, said: "The MMO is committed to protecting fish stocks and quota for law-abiding fishermen who rely on these species to sustain their livelihoods.
"It recognises the majority of the fishing industry is compliant with the rules that govern its commercial activities, and will ensure that those who aren’t do not enjoy unfair financial advantage from illegal activity."