Mark Powell fined for illegal scallop fishing

Mark Powell on the Golden Fleece II boat Mark Powell admitted illegal fishing and failing to submit landing declarations

A fisherman who illegally caught more than £400,000 of scallops, dredging in Cardigan Bay, has been fined £42,000.

Mark Powell, 44, from Penryn in Cornwall, admitted 14 offences of fishing in an illegal area and 14 of failing to submit landing declarations.

Over five months, he made £428,289 from the fishing using his vessel The Golden Fleece II, Swansea Crown Court heard.

Three other members of his family - parents Andrea and Clinton, and wife Lisa Powell, were fined £1,000 each.

Scallop dredging in parts of Cardigan Bay was banned in 2010. The shellfish can retail between £15 and more than £30 a kilo, depending on the season.

Powell carried out the illegal fishing between October 2011 and March 2012.

Prosecutor James Subbiani said Powell's boat, a state-of-the-art scallop dredger, was boarded by marine enforcement officers carrying out a routine patrol at 03:50 GMT on 20 March, 2012, following a radio contact in which the fishermen accepted he was fishing for scallops.

The officers then contacted Welsh government fisheries officers and the decision was made to take the vessel, with its skipper Powell, into Milford Haven.

Record levels of fishing in Cardigan Bay led to a ban on dredging for scallops in 2010

Mr Subbiani said that a system which identified where the vessel was at sea had been switched off on the Golden Fleece II at the point when it arrived in Welsh waters.

He also said in January 2012 the Sea Fish Industry Authority wrote to scallop dredgers in Cardigan Bay asking them to help to identify reports of dredging in banned areas there.

Powell was then asked to switch on the identifying system to show the Welsh government that he was not doing anything wrong, to which he replied: "You know I can't do that, I'm not doing anything the other boats aren't doing."

Sentencing, Judge Huw Davies QC told Powell: "I have to sentence you for using a well-equipped boat to fish for scallops, to fish within an area of Cardigan Bay for which it was not permitted under the order of 2010.

"You're an experienced captain, you know those waters well, and there's evidence you knew the regulations well. The fact that other people offended by breaching this regulation doesn't excuse your decision to do so.

"I accept, however, that your offending record is very limited, confined to a single offence, and it was not the most serious offence of its kind, reflected by the fine of £1,500 (for each offence)."

Powell was ordered to pay £3,000 for each pair of the 14 offences totalling £42,000 and £8,000 towards prosecution costs. The fine must be paid within a year.

After the hearing, a Welsh government spokesperson said: "Sentencing is a matter for the court and we hope this sentence will act as a deterrent to others who are considering illegal fishing in Welsh waters."

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