On Thursday the 22nd of June at North Tyneside Magistrates Court, Mr Charles “Michael” Denton of Atlee Terrace, Newbiggin by the Sea, was found guilty and sentenced for two breaches of national fisheries legislation. This related to an incident in July 2022 when he failed to return 179 Lobsters to the sea that were below the minimum landing size.
The case was brought against Mr Denton by the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) who manage the inshore fishery along the Northumberland and North Tyneside coastline.
During the trial, Elizabeth Rowley of Andrew Jackson Solicitors prosecuting on behalf of NIFCA, informed the court that on the 18th of July 2022 Mr Denton, owner/skipper of the commercial fishing vessel Talisman II BK176, was observed at sea by two Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officers (IFCO’s) from NIFCA setting conspicuous plastic boxes along with lobster pots off the coast of Cambois before returning to the port of Blyth. The two Officers, after proceeding to the sea in one of NIFCA’s enforcement vessels were able to recover these boxes. They found 168 lobsters that measured beneath the minimum conservation reference size stored inside. In between these two events, Mr Denton landed the remainder of his day’s catch to a wholesaler in Blyth, IFCO’s from NIFCA inspected this catch and also found 11 lobsters that measured beneath the same conservation reference size.
Mr Denton had committed 2 offences, he pleaded not guilty to the first and guilty to the second.
- He failed to immediately return 168 lobsters to the sea, contrary to Council Regulation (EU) 2019/1241 for the conservation of fisheries resources and the protection of marine ecosystems through technical measures, pursuant to Council Regulation (EU) 2013/1380 on the Common Fisheries Policy.
- He failed to return to the sea and landed 11 Lobsters contrary to Council Regulation (EU) 2019/1241 for the conservation of fisheries resources and the protection of marine ecosystems through technical measures, pursuant to Council Regulation (EU) 2013/1380 on the Common Fisheries Policy.
After hearing evidence from two IFCO’s and from Mr Denton, the Bench found Mr Denton, represented by Paul Dunn of Lawson and Thompson Solicitors, guilty of both offences. Mr Denton was sentenced to pay a fine of £1000, a further £1000 in prosecution cost and a victim surcharge of £400.
Nick Weir, the Lead Enforcement Officer for NIFCA, said: “The Authority is pleased that the court recognises the importance of national fisheries legislation, Mr Denton’s disregard for legislation designed to protect fish stocks is absolutely unacceptable. By preventing these Lobsters reaching maturity and spawning he has endangered the long-term sustainability of the fishery affecting the entire fishing community.
“Fishing in Northumberland is an economically sensitive activity and of great social importance to our local heritage and character. Our byelaws in conjunction with national legislation, balance the social, environmental and economic needs of our stakeholders to promote healthy seas, sustainable fishing and a viable industry. To ensure this, NIFCA will vigorously pursue anyone who jeopardises the health of the fishery or fails to comply with our officers and legislation”.