Another skipper has been fined for fishing illegally in Manx waters as the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture maintains vigilance to protect stocks.
Ian McClelland, skipper of the Scottish vessel ‘Saturnus’, appeared in court on Thursday and admitted dredging for king scallops in a closed area at the Point of Ayre.
Magistrates fined Mr McClelland, of Kirkmahoa, Dumfries, £5,000 plus £50 costs and ordered him to forfeit his catch.
The court heard he was apprehended by officers on board DEFA’s patrol vessel Barrule on Tuesday.
Mr McClelland had a licence to fish for king scallops in ‘open’ areas of the Manx sea.
The defendant apologised to the court for the offence but said he had been confused by licence conditions and descriptions of closed areas. He promised the offence wouldn't be repeated.
Closed areas exist to protect areas where queen scallops breed and sensitive young stocks settle in large numbers.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:
‘Sea fishing is valuable to the Island’s economy and we have many measures in place to ensure its long term sustainability.
‘By satellite tracking and sea patrols, my Department maintains a careful eye on who is fishing in our territorial waters and doesn’t hesitate to take action when vessels are found to be breaking the law.
‘Queen scallops are in decline and DEFA has a special recovery programme in place to rebuild stocks. Young queen scallops are at a sensitive stage during the winter, where they stop drifting and settle on vegetation on the seabed.
‘Dredging activity such as that conducted by ‘Saturnus’ can damage and destroy this vulnerable habitat.
‘Once again, I hope DEFA’s swift action and the size of the fine will deter other skippers from breaking the law.’
DEFA said it believed licence conditions were clear and closed areas could be easily identified, as evidence by the fact the vast majority of vessels observed them.