Naval Service praised in Scottish court for role in helping catch Spanish fishing vessel


The British Exchequer has netted another £70,000 in fishery fines on the basis of evidence taken by the Irish Naval Service during patrols in Irish waters.

The penalty, which was one of the highest of its type imposed by a Scottish court against a Spanish "flagship" vessel, was levied yesterday in Kilmarnock Sheriff's Court. During the hearing, compliments were paid to the Naval Service in Haulbowline for its co-operation.

The fine was levied against the owner of the UK-registered gill-netter, Cabo Ortegal, which was boarded by the Le Emer in March 1997, on the Porcupine Bank. It was detained for alleged breaches of its pressure stock licence or monthly quota. This is the second case involving Anglo-Irish co-operation against Spanish fishing vessels flying flags of other nations before a Scottish court, and one of several successfully pursued in Britain this year.

In April 13 vessels were fined almost £1 million at Haverfordwest Crown Court following information taken during Naval Service boardings in Irish waters.

In November a UK-registered flagship, the White Pearl, was fined £25,000 sterling as a result of the navy's evidence. The co-operation between the Irish and British fishery inspection agencies dates back to May 1995, when the British Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) requested assistance for inspection by the Naval Service of a UK-registered vessel, the Mount Eden.

Since then the flow of information has increased. There are 115 Spanish flagships on the British register, many of which fish in Irish waters to avoid inspection by the British authorities.

Last year the Naval Service arrested 49 vessels in Irish waters, most of which were "flagships". This year 29 detentions have been made.