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Andrew Jackson secures first commercial permit disqualification for Northumberland IFCA

Elizabeth Rowley, an associate in Andrew Jackson Solicitors’ regulatory team, outlines a recent prosecution on behalf of Northumberland IFCA, resulting in its first permit disqualification

Earlier this year, we represented the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court where a fisherman was convicted of breaching local fisheries legislation. This related to an incident in March 2023 when the fisherman  retained and landed a berried (egg bearing female) lobster.

During a routine inspection by NIFCA at the landing site, they found the defendant with two boxes of catch. After measuring and checking the lobsters for compliance, the NIFCA officer found that one of the lobsters was berried. The defendant did not attend a subsequent interview under caution offered by the NIFCA to explain the circumstances, nor did he attend any of the subsequent Court hearings despite being aware of the proceedings.

The  Magistrates granted our application to hear evidence in the defendant’s absence during the trial; the Court was informed this was due to ongoing medical issues.

After hearing the evidence, the Magistrates found the defendant guilty and sentenced the fisherman to a financial penalty of £480.00, a contribution to the prosecution and investigation costs of £1800.00 and a victim surcharge of £192.00.

The defendant had a previous history of failing to comply with the Inshore Fisheries spanning over 20 years, his last conviction only being a few months earlier where we had prosecuted on behalf of the NIFCA for the defendant retaining 179 undersized Lobsters. The Magistrates considered the legislation, along with the history of breaches, and ordered that the defendant be disqualified from holding or obtaining a commercial shell fish permit from the IFCA for a period of 12 months.

Preventing shellfish from reproducing impacts on their long-term sustainability. It is estimated that from a single clutch of thousands of eggs released by a legal sized lobster, only one or two will eventually result in a mature lobster, which is why it’s vital to allow female lobsters to produce eggs and naturally release their young.

The role of IFCAs is to regulate the local fishing industries and the byelaws in conjunction with national legislation, whilst promoting healthy seas, sustainable fishing and a viable industry.  As highlighted in this case, IFCAs will use their powers where there is evidence of the regulations being breached and the Courts will enforce the legislation to do so.

For help and advice in this area, or any other aspect regulatory law and/or Corporate Crime affecting you and your business, please get in touch with Elizabeth Rowley on Elizabeth.rowley@andrewjackson.co.uk our contact our team on (01482) 325242

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