first_imgTHE skipper of the world’s largest trawler used illegal equipment to grade fish in an operation which caused a ‘double whammy’ for stocks off the Irish coast, a prosecution lawyer has told his trial. Dutch national Gerrit Plug, 59, the master of the 14,000 tonne Annelies Ilena, is on trial at Donegal Circuit Criminal Court on five charges relating to an incident off Tory Island, Co Donegal, on November 22, 2013.Patricia McLaughlin, prosecuting for the DPP, told the jury of six women and six men, that Mr Plug was in breach of European legislation on the day. He was in charge of a fishing operation aboard the 144-metre long vessel, formerly the Killybegs-based Atlantic Dawn, which dumped perfectly good dead fish back to the sea but kept the best fish on board, she alleged.Grading fish in this way is illegal, Ms McLaughlin told the jury, because discarded fish should be recorded and set against a ship’s quota.It was also illegal not to record the discards over 50Kg on the ship’s electronic log-book.“He graded the catch by discarding smaller fish and retaining larger fish to increase the value of the catch,” said Ms McLaughlin in the trial before Judge John O’Hagan.This was to optimise the market value, said the prosecution barrister.“If you are only retaining the best fish and discarding fish which are less valuable and you are not logging it, it is illegal,” she said.She said trawlers were obliged to record their catch and any discards of species over 50kg, with the dumped fish counting against a quota.This was also done so that when quotas were being decided by scientists, they could give fair allocations.“This was a double whammy in the depletion of resources,” added Ms McLaughlin.The Annelies Ilena was boarded by crew from the LE Roisin at 9am on November 22, 2013 and escorted into Killybegs.Lt Michael Devaney, one of the Navy officers who boarded the factory ship, said there was evidence of fish in the water and seagulls feeding off them.He told the judge that ship masters have to update their electronic log-books up to 23.59 each night but during an inspection they are allowed to update their records for the day in question up until the time of the inspection.This wasn’t done, he said, and no records of dumped fish were added.Lt Devaney said that on inspection he found that there were no records of any fish discards between October 8 and the date of the boarding on November 22.Richard Lyons, SC, for Mr Plug, put it to Lt Devaney that the fishing that day could have been what’s known as a ‘clean catch’ where the crew had just happened to have had come across a a shoal of large mackerel.Mr Lyons also told the court that the records were updated by midnight on November 22 and 83kg of discards were recorded.Questioned again by Ms McLaughlin, Lt Devaney said 53kgs of fish were found in an area of the boat known as the scupper ready to be discharged back to the sea.He said 95pc of the mackerel in the scupper were above the legal catch size of 15cms.The court heard was illegal in 2013 to discard any mackerel above the legal catch size.Mr Plug has pleaded not guilty to five charges.The case continues.SKIPPER OF WORLD’S BIGGEST TRAWLER ACCUSED OF ILLEGAL FISHING OFF TORY was last modified: March 26th, 2015 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:atlantic dawnlast_img

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