Owner and Master Fined £48,500 for Dredging Offences
On 18th March 2021 at Liverpool Magistrates, Jones Trawlers Ltd and Mr Liam Jones were fined a combined total of £48,500 for dredging without relevant authority in the Liverpool Bay area following an earlier guilty plea.
In February and March 2019, the scallop dredger “Kingfisher” towed scalloping gear into the NWIFCA District and the Liverpool Bay Special Protection Area, before landing catches to North Wales. Following an investigation, both defendants were charged on four counts of dredging without a permit.
The sea bed habitats within the Liverpool Bay Special Protection Area are home to numerous ecologically important benthic species such as molluscs, sponges and star fish which support the designated bird species within the area. Protected birds include the Red-throated diver which is likely to have been present in the area feeding before migrating back to Arctic breeding grounds. To date dredging has not been permitted in the area and it is estimated that the seabed could take up to two years to recover from the offences.
District Judge Shaw during sentencing stated “Given the specialist nature of their business its scale and experience together with the previous convictions which have been referred to and the fact that whilst this case has been awaiting sentence they have accumulated a further similar conviction I can comfortably conclude that both the company and Mr Jones operate substantially outside the regulatory framework.”
District Judge Shaw made comment that he considered that the defendant’s behaviour to be “clandestine profit driven and unscrupulous”.
The defence made attempts throughout proceedings to assert that the company was suffering financial difficulties, however, it was deemed that accounts showing considerable profit in previous years followed by corporate restructuring and assertions of financial hardship which had not been explained.
District Judge Shaw ruled that the defendant company Jones Trawlers Ltd had acted recklessly in their offending. The Company was fined £10,000 for the first three charges and £18,000 for the final charge where the offence occurred just days after a sentencing for a similar offence in Wales, thus reaching a total fine of £42,000. Costs of £15,000 were awarded to NWIFCA and a victim surcharge of £170.
Mr Jones was fined £1,500 for charges one, two and three and £2,000 for charge four, therefore total fines of £6,500. No costs were issued but a victim surcharge of £170 was imposed.