On 18th October 2021 at Poole Magistrates Court, Reginald John Skinner of Poole pleaded guilty to fishing offences.
As part owner of fishing vessel Sky PE1232, Mr. Skinner pleaded guilty to charges of retaining a quantity of undersized clams aboard his vessel and to obstructing enforcement officers from the Southern Inshore Fisheries & Conservation Authority (Southern IFCA).
The court heard how on 12 th December 2019, Mr. Skinner’s sons, Andrew & Christopher were fishing from 2 different vessels in Poole Harbour. Aboard fishing vessel Sky PE1232, was Christopher Skinner. Christopher returned from a day’s fishing to the area of his mooring, where he jettisoned numerous bags of shellfish close by and out of view in shallow water. As the tide receded, these and another quantity of bags of shellfish, situated further up the foreshore, came into view.
Warranted officers from the Southern IFCA saw Mr. Reginald Skinner arrive at the location in a vehicle. The bags furthest up the foreshore (9 in total) were lifted into the back of the vehicle before Reginald Skinner returned to the driver’s seat. As he did so Mr. Skinner was hailed by officers who instructed him to stop to allow an inspection of his vehicle and catch of shellfish, but Mr. Skinner prevented the officers from doing so by driving off. The officers made several attempts to stop Mr. Skinner, using hand signals and verbal commands, but he repeatedly failed to comply with officer instructions. The officers eventually had to take evasive action to avoid being struck by Mr. Skinner’s fast moving vehicle.
As the tide receded further, the shellfish previously jettisoned from Mr. Skinner’s fishing vessel Sky PE1232 came into view. In total 9 bags of clams, weighing 332.3kg with an estimated first sale value of between £1329.20 and £1,827.65, were recovered by Southern IFCA officers. The catch was inspected for compliance with the minimum size regulations and an average of 75.9% of the clams were below the minimum conservation reference size of 35mm. Officers returned the seized catch to the harbour alive. Minimum conservation reference sizes are established to ensure the protection of juvenile marine species. They allow individuals to reproduce at least once before they are removed from a fishery.
Mr. Reginald Skinner was fined £400 and ordered to pay £400 towards prosecution costs and a victim surcharge of £40. The Southern IFCA cases against Andrew and Christopher Skinner for their involvement in the same incident were heard earlier in the year at Poole Magistrates Court on 12 th May 2021, when they received identical sentences.
Acting Deputy Chief Officer Sam Dell said, “Obstruction of the Authority’s officers will not be tolerated. The Marine and Coastal Access Act gives officers common enforcement powers to carryout inspections and provides robust legislation to assist officers in regard to this type of misconduct. Southern IFCA is committed to protecting the fishery to ensure healthy seas, sustainable fisheries and a viable industry. By taking offenders to court we aim to support a sustainable local fishery.”