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Catching undersized whelks costs fishing firm £7.5K

Mistake blamed on novice crew member

Catching undersized whelks in Manx territorial waters has cost a local fishing firm more than £7,500.

A K Marine Limited and the skipper of its vessel Liam Gregory Caine, both of Glen Maye Road in Patrick, appeared at Douglas Courthouse where they admitted landing sea fish which were too small.

Officers from the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture were carrying out a routine inspection at Isle of Man Seafood Products in Peel on 27 January.

They were reviewing a catch brought in from the ‘Manx Shearwater’ when they noted the one-kilogram haul contained more than 800 undersized whelks.  

Adrian Kinrade, the director of A K Marine Limited, who had been invited to attend the inspection told officers: “I can see we have an issue. I can see we messed up.”

In total 11 per cent of the catch was found to be undersized but DEFA operates a 10 per cent leeway meaning 1.7 per cent was outside the accepted parameter.

The undersized whelks were returned to the sea alive.

During sentencing the court heard the vessel had been at sea with two new crew members onboard – the one responsible for sizing the whelks was on his first day of employment.

Both have since been dismissed from the company.

Caine – the 21-year-old skipper – admitted to DEFA officers he should have been keeping a closer eye on the new member of staff.

The advocate for both parties told the court it was a ‘very painful’ ordeal adding the catch from the day prior, when the new crew member hadn’t been working, was compliant.

“Clearly the grading of the whelks is a one-person job and that person has to do it properly,” he added; “This was a one-off mistake – there was no financial gain for the company.”

High Bailiff Jayne Hughes fined A K Marine Limited £7,500, ordered the company to pay £1,804 in compensation for the catch and imposed prosecution costs of £140.

Fining Caine £2,500, and ordering him to pay £50 in prosecution costs, she told both: “These offences are always considered to be serious.”

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