Recreational Fisher Fined for Breaches of NIFCA Byelaws 13th March 2020

In a prosecution brought by Northumberland Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (NIFCA) at North Tyneside Magistrates Court, Mr Michael Bye, a Recreational Shellfish Permit holder from Ashington pleaded guilty (by post) to breaching 2 NIFCA Byelaws:- Byelaw 4 ‘Crustacea & Molluscs Permitting & Pot Limitation’ and Byelaw 5 ‘Marking of Fishing Gear & Keep Boxes’.

The NIFCA barrister Vanessa Crossley, told the court that on 3rd September 2019 whilst carrying out a routine sea patrol in the vicinity of Cresswell Village, NIFCA Officers spotted a small single white marker buoy with no identification markers visible, contrary to NIFCA Byelaw 5 ‘Marking of Fishing Gear & Keep Boxes’. The Officers proceeded to haul the buoy and attached pots onboard the Authority’s Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) TT St Aidan. Once all 5 pots were onboard and inspected it was found that 3 of the pots did not have any ‘Escape Gaps’ fitted contrary to NIFCA Byelaw 4 ‘Crustacea & Molluscs Permitting & Pot Limitation’ and the remaining 2 pots had Escape Gaps fitted but purposely obstructed. Officers were able to identify who the pots belonged to by the Recreational Shellfish Tags attached.

Mr. Bye was contacted and invited to attend an interview on 5th September 2019 at the NIFCA Office, Ennerdale Road, Blyth, where an interview was carried out by NIFCA Officers. Mr. Bye admitted that he had no identification markers on his surface marker and that 3 of his pots had no escape gaps and the further 2 pots were obstructed.

Northumberland IFCAs Chief IFCO Al Browne said “Northumberland IFCA and its officers take the breach of any NIFCA byelaw very seriously, particularly one such as this which is designed to conserve and protect fishing stocks for current and future generations of fishers, as well as for the benefit of the marine environment. In this case, because the defendant ignored the advice he had received when he had attended the NIFCA Office to purchase his 2019 Recreational Shellfish Permit and the fact that he had wilfully obstructed escape gaps which he had fitted, preventing immature, small lobsters and specified shellfish from escaping capture, the Authority felt that when Mr Bye refused a Financial Administrative Penalty which he was offered, the matter was so serious that it had to be dealt with by the Magistrates Court.

Mr Bye was found guilty in his absence by the Magistrates and fined a total of £750 for both offences plus NIFCA costs of £800, legal costs of £675 and victim surcharge of £75 making a total of £2,300. Hopefully this will send out a very clear message as to how seriously an offence of this nature is viewed”.