Skipper Fined Over Catch Deception

The Spanish skipper of a UK-registered trawler has been fined €1,000 for underdeclaring the size of a catch of hake at Killybegs.

Donegal Circuit Court also heard this week that the owners of the John-Loren automatically forfeited the catch and fishing gear worth a total of €35,000.

Roberto Viquiera, the 51-year-old skipper from Spain admitted the offence - a breach of Irish and EU regulations - which was discovered when his vessel was boarded at Killybegs by a Sea Fisheries Protection officer last Saturday week.

The court heard that the John-Loren regularly dropped-off fish at Killybegs. It was then sent to Spain and sold there.

On this occasion checks showed the catch weighed 1,000 kilos more than was registered in the log. The excess catch was worth €1,600.

Judge John O'Hagan said he was satisfied from the evidence that the skipper wasn't personally aware that the size of the fish haul breached regulations although he accepted responsibility.

Weighing the catch was a job carried out by another member of crew and a "tolerance" level of eight per cent in excess was permitted, but the catch exceeded that.

The judge noted that the street value of the over-catch was €1,600. He observed the mandatory seizure of the catch and gear was a "very high penalty" for the quantity involved.

The vessel had also been tied up in port for five days as a result of the offence.


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