THE SKIPPER of the Yell trawler Guardian Angell was fined £7,200 at Lerwick Sheriff Court yesterday for recording his catch of dogfish wrongly.
Michael John Henderson, 46, of Cullivoe, admitted he could not have taken all 59 boxes of dogs in western waters, as he had claimed on his logsheet.
The value of the disputed catch, which Henderson sold, was £3,186.
His agent, Denis Yule, said the boat’s net had already been in the water before she crossed the four degrees west line from the North Sea into the western waters sector. Different quota restrictions apply either side of the line and skippers have to record their activities in each sector seperately, although they have no idea how much of their haul was already in the net as it crossed the “border”.
At the time of the offence in September last year, catching dogs in the North Sea sector was restricted to five per cent of the overall catch from the area – a limit which did not apply across the line, giving skippers an obvious incentive to log the species as having come from “west of four”.
Fisheries officers in Lerwick suspected that was what Henderson had done deliberately because their tracking of the boat via satellite suggested it had only been in western waters about 20 minutes.
Mr Yule said it was not a deliberately faked log entry, rather it was partially true, partially fake.
Sheriff Graeme Napier said Henderson was far from being one of the serious fishing offenders despite having a previous conviction for a minor technical offence for which he was admonished.