Commercial Fisherman Pleads Guilty to Illegal Recreational Fishing and Failing to Comply With Fisheries Officers

On the 8th of April 2021 Mr James Arkle of Pegswood, Northumberland pled guilty to two breaches of fisheries legislation relating to the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (NIFCA) byelaws. Mr Arkle was sentenced on the 15th of July at Newcastle Magistrates Court.

The case was brought against Mr Arkle by NIFCA, who manage the inshore fishery along the Northumberland and North Tyneside coastline.

Andrew Oliver of Andrew Jackson Solicitors, prosecuting on behalf of NIFCA, informed District Judge Griffiths that on the 26th of February Mr Arkle, an experienced commercial fisherman, had been observed (by officers on patrol) working shellfish pots from the West Pier of Blyth Harbour without the required recreational shellfish permit issued from NIFCA. When challenged by fisheries officers Mr Arkle ran from the scene, chest deep into the sea in an attempt to dispose of the illegally caught shellfish he later admitted to catching.

Mr Arkle committed two offences, “failing to comply with a requirement reasonably made, or a direction reasonably given, by an enforcement officer contrary to Section 292 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009” and “fishing for specified shellfish otherwise than in accordance with a recreational permit issued by the Northumberland Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority contrary to NIFCA Byelaw 4 “Crustacea and Molluscs Permitting and Pot Limitation”.”

Mr Arkle who was represented by Denise Jackman of Watson Woodhouse solicitors did not attend his sentencing. After considering Mr Arkle’s fishing experience and familiarity with fisheries legislation, early guilty plea and that he is no longer a commercial fisherman, District Judge Griffiths ruled he should be fined £262 and ordered to pay costs to the sum of £1500 and a £26.20 victim surcharge.

NIFCA Chief Executive Mike Hardy said “The Authority is pleased that the court recognises the importance of the national fisheries legislation that our officers rely on to do their important work, as well as the Authority byelaws that are essential for protecting commercially sensitive stocks in our district.  Northumberland IFCA will not tolerate non-compliance towards its officers work and will take appropriate legal action regarding any individual who does not comply. Fishing for shellfish in Northumberland is vitally important to commercial fishers who currently have well documented and publicised pressures on their industry. Fishing is also a source of great enjoyment for responsible recreational gatherers.  The  fishery requires sensitive administration and our Byelaws balance the social, environmental and economic needs of our stakeholders to promote healthy seas, sustainable fishing and a viable industry.”