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Scallop Fisherman Fined 23 November 2005

    The Irish skipper of a Scottish-registered fishing vessel was fined £2,000 with £125 costs by the High Bailiff, Mr Michael Moyle, at a Court in Douglas on Wednesday afternoon, 23rd November.

    Michael Connaghan was skippering the motor fishing vessel, Christy M, on the afternoon of Tuesday 22nd November. The vessel was about 3¾ miles west of The Chickens when she was boarded at about 2.45pm by Sea Fisheries Officer, John Summers, and his assistant, Andy Thompson.

    The officers had been patrolling in the fishery protection vessel, Barrule, and were carrying out a routine boarding. However, Mr Thompson found that the scallop gauge being used by the crew of the Christy M was inaccurate. The officers checked catches in three bags of scallops and found that over a fifth of the scallops in each bag were undersized.

    The fishing vessel was escorted into Douglas, where a further check found almost 25% of scallops were undersized. Mr Moyle said that this was one of the highest percentages of undersized scallops he had had to deal with.

    The majority of the undersized scallops were between 105 mm and the required minimum landing size of 110 mm. A small number were about 100 mm, the smallest measuring only 97 mm across the broadest part of the shell. Of a total of 3,338 scallops checked, 805 were found to be under 110 mm.

    Mr Moyle noted Connaghan’s guilty plea and his apology to the Court. There were no previous convictions, and Mr Moyle accepted that there had been some attempt to measure scallops.

    However, he emphasised that it was the skipper’s responsibility to ensure that gauges were correct and measurement was carried out effectively. He warned Connaghan that taking undersized scallops was viewed very seriously in the Island.

    In fining Connaghan £2,000 with costs of £125, Mr Moyle said that the sums must be paid before the vessel would be allowed to leave the Island, with 90 days in gaol in default of payment.

    The mfv Christy M is registered in Leith, Port Letters and Number LH30. However, it is owned by Islay Crab Exports, a company based in Islay. Connaghan’s catch amounted to 12½ bags. The undersized scallops were removed from the fishing vessel and were deposited in the sea by the Sea Fisheries Officers.

    23rd November 2005

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