Royal Navy Operations Results In Fishing Trawler Fined


The owner and master of a Dutch fishing vessel which had deliberately adapted its nets in order to catch hundreds of baby fish has been fined £51,000 after they were caught by a Royal Navy patrol ship.

HMS Severn’s boarding team made a tactical approach during the early hours of the morning, surprising the fisherman on board the trawler Hanny, which was around 150 nautical miles away from the British Coast in the North Sea.

First Lieutenant, Lieutenant Chris Carter, who was accompanied by a Dutch Fisheries Inspector and Able Seaman (Logistician) Sulayman Marong, led the team on board and quickly discovered that both fishing nets had been deliberately constricted or ‘blinded’.

This illegal technique prevents juvenile fish escaping from the net and causes serious damage to the fishery, with up to 40% percent of the fish caught being discarded. In consultation with the Headquarters of the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), the decision was made to detain the Hanny alongside for further investigation by the MMO Coastal Office in North Shields.

The trawler’s Master and Owners appeared in North Shields Magistrates’ court on Friday July 29, and admitted the charge of ‘using illegal gear attachments on the port and starboard cod ends’. Owner Maatschap De Vries and master Sebastian De Vries were each fined £1,000 for the illegal attachment, £8,750 for the value of the catch, £14,000 for the value of the gear, a £15 victim surcharge and £1,761 legal and investigation costs, adding to a total of £51,052.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Severn, Lieutenant Commander Marcus Hember said:

“The illegal use of blinded nets within the fragile fisheries of the United Kingdom is extremely irresponsible and risks the livelihood of hundreds of fishermen who are reliant on their sustainability.”

“These are extremely difficult offences to detect, and unless we are able to catch offenders red-handed impossible to prove.”

“Successful prosecutions such as this one are only possible using the advanced tactical maritime security skills that the Royal Navy is able to bring to the Fishery Protection task; I am very proud of all my team for their hard work and dedication.”

Lt Chris Carter, who the led the inspection, said:

“This method of fishing is illegal and damaging to the environment so I am pleased with this result. Hopefully it will act as deterrent to other vessels who use similar techniques.”

HMS Severn has conducted 240 boardings so far in 2011, of which 110 have resulted in the detection of infringements of EU or UK law. In 2010 Severn detained seven fishing vessels into port for further investigation and this is the third to be detained in 2011. The ship visited Newcastle for three days after the patrol and participated in the Sunderland Air Show.

The ship is one of three sister patrol vessels in the Portsmouth-based Fishery Protection Squadron. The Royal Navy personnel on board are tasked with regulating fishing in UK waters by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) which aims to encourage compliance with fisheries legislation through education, advice and guidance to the industry wherever possible.

The MMO may also take enforcement action which could result in a court appearance, potential fines for masters and owners, and forfeiture of equipment imposed by the court. Such action helps to ensure that individuals and operators do not benefit at the expense of honest fishermen, for example by unlawful financial gain or misrepresentation of quota. It also helps to secure the sustainability of fish stocks for the future and a viable fishing industry.


Source: royalnavy, August 4, 2011.

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