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£4015 Fine for Fishing in Protected Area

28 June 2012

UK - The master and owner of the fishing vessel Kelly Marena II was today (28 June) sentenced at Weymouth Magistrates Court for fishing illegally within a protected area of Lyme Bay, off the Devon and Dorset coast.

Mark Higgins, aged38, of Chelston, Torquay was ordered to pay £4015 after pleading guilty to dredging for shellfish and demersal trawling in the Designated Area contrary to the Lyme Bay Designated Area (fishing Restrictions) Order 2008.

Currently such fishing activity is prohibited in a designated 60 square-mile area of Lyme Bay, which is a candidate Special Area of Conservation (cSAC).

On 20 December Dorset Police Air Surveillance Unit was enlisted by the Marine Management Organisation to observe fishing activity near to the Lyme Bay restricted area.

The Kelly Marena II (BM 454), which is based in Brixham, was recorded by the police helicopter off the coast of Burton Bradstock within the restricted area close to its border.

It appeared to be using towed gear and dredging within the restricted zone.

Mr Higgins was interviewed by the Marine Management Organisation on 27 January 2012 where he admitted being the owner and master of the vessel at the time of the incident and that he was aware of the restricted area, which he often fished close to.

Helicopter surveillance footage and a statement from helicopter observer PC Leeding was presented as evidence of the illegal fishing activity.

The magistrates fined Mr Higgins £1000, ordered him to pay £3000 towards costs and also imposed a victim surcharge of £15.

Paul Johnson, Principal Marine Officer for the Marine Management Organisation said: "We are committed to protecting the sensitive features within Lyme Bay and are exploring a number of new ways of working to do this.

"Fishermen should not be given a bad reputation by the irresponsible actions of this vessel. The importance of the fishing restrictions for the conservation of the area are recognised by many in the local industry, who comply with them."

Sergeant Ian Wood of Dorset Police said: "This is the first time our helicopter has been used to support a fisheries investigation in Lyme Bay and it is a good example of how such a resource can be shared with a partnership agency, in this case the Marine Management Organisation. We frequently assist other partner organisations, South West Ambulance Service and Dorset Fire & Rescue Service being good examples. The successful outcome of this case is an indication of the effectiveness of the helicopter."

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