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Large fine for NI fishing boat skipper

Man admits unlicensed fishing in Manx waters

The skipper of a Northern Irish fishing boat has been fined £26,000 for unlicensed fishing in Manx waters.

Fifty-four-year-old Christopher Heslip, of Mountain Road, Kilkeel in Northern Ireland, appeared before Deputy High Bailiff Jayne Hughes at Douglas courthouse today.

The court heard Heslip had caught more than 13,700kg of queen scallops which he was not entitled to in Manx waters in August and September last year, valued at just over £13,000.

Heslip's advocate, Winston Taylor, told the court his client had a licence to fish in Manx waters, but had accidentally exceeded catch limits and fished outside curfews because he had mistakenly thought he was just outside the 12-mile limit at the time.

This was down to a piece of equipment, known as a plotter, not working, meaning he had to rely on his radar instead, which was less accurate.

Deputy High Bailiff Jayne Hughes gave Heslip credit for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity and for his full cooperation with authorities, and acknowledged his breaches had not been intentional.

She also noted his 23-year career as a fishing boat skipper which had seen no previous convictions.

Mrs Hughes said he should have ceased fishing once he was aware his plotter wasn't working, though, particularly as he had been trying to so close to Manx waters.

In addition to the £26,000 fine she ordered him to pay £50 prosecution costs.

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