Fish­er­man re­fused to dump dead fish back into the sea

JURY DE­CIDES KIL­MORE SKIP­PER NOT GUILTY OF FISH­ING OVER QUOTA

Wexford People - - NEWS -

WEX­FORD Cir­cuit Crim­i­nal Court was told that the Mas­ter of a Kil­more Quay fish­ing ves­sel re­fused to dump good healthy fish back over­board into the sea which led to his be­ing pros­e­cuted for fish­ing over the quota.

De­fence Solic­i­tor, Cor­mac Dun­leavy told the jury that his client, Paul Keat­ing, of New­town, Kil­more Quay, main­tained a sim­i­lar stance to that of his fa­ther by re­fus­ing to dump good fish back into the sea. He said that there had been lots of con­tro­versy re­gard­ing the method of fish­ing where dead fish was put back into the sea, a law that is to be changed next year.

‘My client’s fa­ther, Johnny Keat­ing has been protest­ing for many years to have this changed and as a moral protest re­fused to dump dead fish back into the sea. His son, Paul, the de­fen­dant in this case for fish­ing over quota, has worked with his fa­ther for the past ten years and also ob­jects to putting dead fish back into the sea,’ said Mr. Dun­leavy.

Paul Keat­ing pleaded not guilty to on or be­tween May 1, 2015, and Oc­to­ber 12, 2015, be­ing the Mas­ter of the Ir­ish Sea Fish­ing Boat ‘Brid­get Carmel’ landins quanties of sole in ex­cess of quo­tas ap­pli­ca­ble to a fish­ing boat 55 feet in length. He also pleaded not guilty to two sim­i­lar type charges re­lat­ing to cod and also to skate and ray.

Pros­e­cut­ing Coun­sel, Sinead Glee­son, told the court that the Sea author­ity reg­u­lates sea fish­ing around the two hun­dred mile ra­dius of the Ir­ish wa­ters, while also con­serv­ing fish stocks in Ir­ish wa­ters.

She said that Liam Kennedy, a Sea Fisheries Of­fi­cer, was car­ry­ing out a check on Oc­to­ber 1, 2015, into the date sys­tem, where all fish­ing ves­sels have cer­tain obli­ga­tions such as a log book which they keep elec­tron­i­cally.

She said that when Mr. Kennedy ac­cessed the log book of the Brid­get Carmel he no­ticed that on that par­tic­u­lar date was this ves­sel was catch­ing and keep­ing fish in ex­cess of the quota.

In ev­i­dence, Liam Kennedy, a Sea Fisheries Pro­tec­tion Of­fi­cer based in Howth, said that on Oc­to­ber 12, 2015, he came to the con­clu­sion there were sev­eral breaches of the catch by the Brid­get Carmel. He said he had looked at 85 ves­sels in to­tal dur­ing his check

To sup­port his ev­i­dence, Mr. Kennedy pro­vided de­tailed ta­bles to the jury which were pre­pared from the log book.

In re­sponse to ques­tions from Mr. Dun­leavy, for the de­fence, he said he was aware of the protests and the re­fusal of Mr. Keat­ing and his fa­ther to dump fish back into the sea, adding that once lifted it’s un­likely cod and had­dock would still be alive on reach­ing the ves­sel.

Mr. Dun­leavy put it to Mr Kennedy that he did not visit the ves­sel to check the catc­hand that the check was all car­ried out elec­tron­i­cally. Re­ply­ing, Mr. Kennedy said he did not seize the fish but was aware of the catch.

How­ever, Mr. Dun­leavy said this was a rou­tine desk­top in­ves­ti­ga­tion car­ried out on Oc­to­ber 12, 2015, know­ing what had hap­pened two days pre­vi­ously when his client was put off the seas for two months, a penalty in it­self with the loss of wages.

He said Mr Keat­ing was put off the sea for the very charges be­fore the court. He also said this is a sys­tem that is to be changed next year, where it would be a pros­e­cu­tion to dump the fish back into the sea, but the fish­ing ves­sel would have to bring the fish back to port where it would be weighed.

In sum­ming up, Sinead Glee­son, for the pros­e­cu­tion, said it’s the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Mas­ter of a fish­ing boat to know the quota which is pub­lished every month. She said the ves­sel was 329.6 kg over quota in re­la­tion to sole, well out­side the 10% mar­gin of er­ror. In re­la­tion to cod he was 457.47kg over quota.

Mr. Dun­leavy said Mr. Keat­ing is a 30-year-old sin­gle man. He told the jury that while this is a crim­i­nal of­fence, the only ev­i­dence they had heard is what was sup­plied by his client. He said that in this case some­one is go­ing to a com­puter screen and that, fol­low­ing the in­for­ma­tion filed by the de­fen­dant him­self, cal­cu­lat­ing fig­ures, per­cent­ages and quo­tas. Mr. Dun­leavy said that in pre­vi­ous cases, Mr Kennedy spoke of visit­ing boats to carry out checks, but he did not do this in re­la­tion to the Brid­get Carmel and he could have vis­ited the ves­sel.

Sum­ming up, Judge Quinn said that fish­ing ves­sels are obliged to keep a log book and each boat can only catch a cer­tain amount of fish. In this case Mr. Kennedy said the Brid­get Carmel caught fish in ex­cess of the quota.

The ac­cu­racy of the data sub­mit­ted by the Mas­ter is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Mas­ter, said the Judge. The pros­e­cu­tion case is based on the logs he filled out. The present case is that the ac­cused was a con­sid­er­able amount over the quota.

Judge Quinn told the jury that the De­fence case is that the only ev­i­dence is that sup­plied by the ac­cused him­self. The Fish­ing Of­fi­cer could have vis­ited the ves­sel and had the fish weighed, but he never phys­i­cally went to in­spect the fish, in­stead ac­cess­ing elec­tronic data of the Bridge Carmel and, from that, com­ing to the con­clu­sion there were sev­eral breaches of catch over quota.

Judge Quinn, hav­ing con­sid­ered a le­gal ap­pli­ca­tion from Mr. Dun­leavy, told the jury that a not guilty ver­dict could be en­tered in re­la­tion to skate and ray, the third charge.

The jury re­turned af­ter an ab­sence of one hour and 37 min­utes and re­turned a unan­i­mous not guilty ver­dict in re­la­tion to counts one and two.

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