Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Northern Ireland captain fined £26,000 for illegal scallop fishing

Scallops
Image caption Manx territorial waters contain a number of restricted fishing zones

A skipper from County Down has been fined £26,000 for illegally fishing in Manx waters.

Christopher Heslip, 54, from Mountain Road in Kilkeel had the correct licence but twice breached Isle of Man fisheries conditions in 2016.

Mr Heslip admitted an offence of exceeding queen scallop catch limits and fishing during curfew periods at Douglas courthouse.

Deputy High Bailiff Jane Hughes gave credit to his early guilty plea.

The court heard the skipper had caught queen scallops valued at around £13,000 in Manx waters, which he was not entitled to do.

'Blatant disregard'

Mr Heslip said a plotter on board his vessel was broken, so he had to depend on less reliable radar to chart his position and thought he was outside the island's 12-mile limit.

Environment Minister Geoffrey Boot said the size of the fine demonstrates how seriously the Isle of Man views fishing conservation.

Mr Boot said: "The queen scallop fishery is worth millions of pounds to the island's economy and supports hundreds of jobs.

"This skipper was one of very few eligible to fish this restricted fishery and he demonstrated blatant disregard for the island's conservation measures".

The maximum fine under the Fisheries Act 2012 is £50,000.

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