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Fish firm faces £4m confiscation

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#1 Barry McCrindle

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 08:30 PM

from BBC news site

I always see both sides of the argument, the one that's wrong and mine.....

#2 Barry McCrindle

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 08:38 PM

from BBC news site

I always see both sides of the argument, the one that's wrong and mine.....

#3 Guest_Steve Ellwood_*

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 10:26 PM

This will be worth watching to see if the 'Authorities' take the same route as they did with the McBride's, or will they take a different view point when it comes to the 'Corporates'  :-[

#4 Sweltered



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Posted 06 May 2009 - 02:40 PM

Somehow I don't think Paul Trebilcock was of the same opinion when he was a fishery officer in KLB.

What timeframe was the 141k they admitted to for, a full week, or only part of a week....
"Hanging is the outlaw's path to glory and much too good for the likes of you."

#5 Guest_Steve Ellwood_*

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 02:57 PM

Bit more on this story....


#6 Guest_Steve Ellwood_*

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 03:00 PM

This links to the earlier cases against the individual skippers:


#7 Guest_Steve Ellwood_*

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 11:37 AM

Latest update.


#8 3762dazzer



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Posted 08 May 2009 - 06:43 PM

Difficulties for the 'authorities' this one :idiot2:

West Cornwall s biggest employer just about, take them down, just as well turn the lights out and slam the door behind you down there. :D

#9 sam



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Posted 08 May 2009 - 07:02 PM

Apparently any evidence for their defence was 'lost' by the MFA?

#10 3762dazzer



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Posted 17 June 2009 - 09:18 PM

Judge sees sense and only confiscates £710 000 ???

Remember you heard it here first :cheers:



Fish firm ordered to pay £710,000
Cornish fishing firm W Stevenson and Son has been ordered to pay £710,000 after it cheated on quotas.

The firm was convicted in 2007 of eight charges relating to the illegal landing and sale of quota fish at Newlyn. It pleaded guilty to another 37 charges.

An earlier confiscation hearing heard the firm benefited by more than £4m.

But in making the payment order, a judge at Exeter Crown Court took into account the possible effect a larger amount could have on the local economy.

Falsified records

The firm was also ordered to pay £66,000 costs.

At the trial in 2007, Exeter Crown Court was told that during six months in 2002 almost a quarter of fish landed by a sample of 20 Stevenson vessels was illegal.

Cod, hake and anglerfish were falsely described as non-quota, lower-value species such as ling, turbot and bass.

“ It's not going to be easy to find this sum of money ”
Elizabeth Stevenson W Stevenson and Son
The Stevenson firm, which runs auctions where the fish are sold, also falsified the auction records to make sure they matched the figures provided by the skippers.

This enabled them to break the European rules designed to save dwindling fish stocks.

The firm is run by Elizabeth Stevenson, former president of the National Federation of Fisheries Organisations.

She said after the case: "We are grateful that the judge recognised our contribution to the local and national fishing industry and the local economy.

"It's not going to be easy to find this sum of money. It's huge, but the case has ended well."

She added: "We haven't got away with it. It's absolute hell to take part in a case like this."

Earlier this year, the owners and skippers of six Newlyn fishing boats were fined for their part in the scam.

#11 Guest_Steve Ellwood_*

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 08:14 AM

Courtesy of the BBC News Site @

Who's wrong - fishermen or the system?

By Jeremy Cooke
BBC News

A British fishing firm has been ordered to hand over more than £700,000 by a judge after cheating on quotas by lying about the type of fish it had caught.

The case centred on six vessels belonging to W Stevenson and Son, based in the Cornish port of Newlyn, which deliberately over-fished protected fish stocks for financial gain.

The scam involved landing high-quality, high-value fish such as cod and hake, but suggesting in the paperwork they were non-quota species such as ling, halibut and bass.

It is too soon to calculate the long-term impact the £776,000 punishment will have on the firm - although it says it will survive.

Even for a company with a substantial annual turnover, raising that kind of cash may not be easy.

Still, the company's boss had reason to look relieved when she left Exeter Crown Court on Wednesday.

Elizabeth Stevenson knew at one point the court was asked to consider confiscation to the tune of some £4m.
“ Fishermen have amassed what little they have through work in the most harsh of conditions ”
Online petition urging a halt to punishing fishermen

Speaking to reporters after the case ended she denied the offences, which happened in 2002, were anything to do with greed.

"At the time this was pure financial necessity," she said.

"It was to keep people employed, keep boats at sea and keep the business and Newlyn going."

But for the Marine & Fisheries Agency this case was about justice - and sending a clear message to the industry that cheating on quotas will not be tolerated.

It brought the case to court and used Proceeds of Crime (POC) legislation - usually used to seize the assets of big-time drug dealers and gangsters - to exact the maximum financial punishment.

The agency sees itself as being in the front line in a battle to preserve UK fish stocks.

It is clearly hoping the Newlyn case, and others like it, will act as a deterrent to any trawler owner or skipper tempted to land and sell fish which have been caught outside the quota system set by the European Union.

But for some inside the industry there is outrage that fishermen are being punished for breaking the rules of what, for many, is a discredited system.

Fishing quotas are supposed to protect the marine eco-system for generations to come.

But they have also been inadvertently responsible for the practice of "discards" which means, for instance, an estimated 40-60% of fish caught by trawlers in the North Sea is thrown back into the water, dead.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition on the 10 Downing Street website calling for an end to the use of POC legislation to punish fishermen.

Part of the petition reads: "The act is on the statute to strip assets from criminals who have amassed their wealth from criminal acts.

"Fishermen have amassed what little they have through work in the most harsh of conditions."

Most people in Newlyn seem to accept the company must be punished for its actions.

But along the harbour side there are also some complaints the authorities are "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

There is also recognition that a financial punishment running into millions could have threatened the future of one of this fishing port's major employers.

It is difficult to know how widespread is the kind of deception used by W Stevenson.

But over the years the Marine and Fisheries Agency has brought several such cases before the courts.

They have led to punishments running into millions of pounds and in some cases terms in jail for those convicted, who cannot or will not make the payments ordered by the court.

The two sides could hardly be more polarised.

But, it seems, there is some common ground on which almost everyone can agree - the current quota system needs radical reform.

The European Fisheries Commissioner has called discards "immoral".

As long as the "system" requires skippers to dump huge amounts of dead fish back into the sea, it seems likely that some will be tempted to break the rules and land their catches illegally.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/06/17 19:59:58 GMT

#12 Guest_Steve Ellwood_*

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 06:59 PM

Courtesy of Fishupdate.com @ http://www.fishupdat...fish__case.html

Fishing firms warned after 'blackfish' case
Published:  22 June, 2009

FISHING companies were warned at the weekend that the full force of the law will be brought to bear on them if they break EU quota rules.

The warning was issued after the large Newlyn-based trawler operator W. Stevenson and Sons was ordered by Exeter Crown Court to pay £7660,000 in compensation and costs arising from an earlier 'blackfish' scam which saw high value quota fish being mis-recorded as not quota species.

Nigel Gooding, chief executive of the Marine and Fisheries Agency, which originally brought the compensation claim, said: 'This was an environmental and financial crime. Quota was available for these species of fish throughout the investigation period.

'The deception was done for financial gain – not to avoid discarding fish. And these activities both endangered fish stocks and penalised legal fishermen by depressing prices.'

The MFA investigation, which at one time was seeking compensation of up to £4 million, said the offences would not have been discovered without the diligence of its officers who conducted a painstaking year-long investigation. He added: 'I want to congratulate the MFA’s fishery officers involved in this case.

The deputy director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency - or SOCA - ( who was not named) said after the case: 'These were serious criminal offences which the court decided were committed over a long period of time and which puts legitimate businesses at risk.If you try to profit from crime, SOCA and its partners will use all the powers available to take those profits away.'

#13 Guest_Steve Ellwood_*

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Posted 28 June 2009 - 08:37 AM

Times On Line having a go at W Stevenson and Sons - http://www.timesonli...icle6590688.ece

From The Sunday Times
June 28, 2009

You’ve just put fishing in more peril, M’lud
Charles Clover

Cornwall still trades on its romantic past of pirates, smugglers and excise men. When filming a seemingly interminable court case about the landing of “black fish” in the port of Newlyn last year, we drove round the promontory and found ourselves, to some hilarity, faced with two life-sized statues of pirates outside a tourist shop. We had inadvertently reached Penzance.

The smugglers and pirates were long gone by the time Gilbert and Sullivan wrote their comic opera. Indeed, part of the joke was that The Pirates of Penzance was set in what was by then a placid seaside resort. But Cornwall’s isolated position still means it has its modern equivalents of smugglers and excise men and that became all too clear when the seven-year court case about illegal fishing in Newlyn concluded earlier this month. In one of the biggest prosecutions for illegal fishing ever brought by fishery inspectors, the trawler-owning firm of W Stevenson and Sons was ordered to pay £776,000, including costs, for its part in a massive illegal fishing scam during six months of 2002.

The company’s systematic deception involved six owners and skippers of fishing vessels and an auctioneer. They disguised the landings of valuable species such as hake, sole, monkfish and cod by describing them as turbot and ling, or fish for which there were no restrictive quotas. The firm provided an outlet for this black fish through its Newlyn auction and falsified sales records to match the false declarations made by the vessels’ masters.

In all, W Stevenson and Sons pleaded guilty to 45 specimen charges of falsifying fish sales documents, yet the company still dominates the port of Newlyn and the southwest. During the investigation it operated 35 vessels and owned salerooms, auctioneers, fish merchants and fuel suppliers. Elizabeth Stevenson, who represented the trawler-owning family throughout the case, also chaired the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations. Given this was one of the biggest black fish cases in Britain in recent years and a fraud perpetrated by one of the leaders of the fishing industry at a time when 90% of European Union fish stocks are in trouble, you might expect a judge to throw the book at the Stevensons. Wrong.

The sentence gave a very mixed message. Judge Philip Wassall authorised a confiscation order allowing the seizure of £710,000 worth of assets — the amount of profit the firm was calculated to have made by its deceit. However, for the 45 charges admitted by the company, the judge gave a two-year conditional discharge and imposed no punitive fines. To add to the comicality of the case, it now seems he may not have been allowed to give a conditional discharge and may have to impose nominal fines.

Was he right not to punish the Stevensons? Certainly, Cornwall’s fishing industry believes so. Elizabeth Stevenson and the Newlyn skippers put up a defence with as many good lines as a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. A thousand people signed a petition against the use of proceeds of crime legislation — set up to seize the assets of big-time drug dealers and gangsters — to punish fishermen. The skippers argued that if EU rules had been observed, fishermen would have had to throw millions of fish back into the sea, dead.

As the judge said, there was enough quota available to be bought or rented for them to have landed all the fish they caught if they had wanted to. The fishermen had simply maximised their profits by not buying it and by the end of the year the quotas for threatened stocks were overfished more as a result of their deceit.

Last week Elizabeth Stevenson again argued that the boat owners and auctioneers caught in the investigation were not criminals living off the proceeds of crime, although the law says they were. Many will sympathise with her views on the EU’s bankrupt fisheries policy and her shrinking industry’s plight, although this, ultimately, will not do. Nor will the argument that punitive fines would have undermined the viability of W Stevenson and Sons and, by extension, of Newlyn’s fishing industry. This is where I think the judge got it wrong.

The reason was lying in a box the last time I was on the firm’s market floor: a porbeagle shark, critically endangered in EU waters and one of the species of ocean shark last week reported as being threatened with extinction. By continuing to fish after their legal quotas had been reached, the W Stevenson vessels were likely to catch more endangered species such as this porbeagle. What the Stevensons did was indeed a crime for which they should be penalised. The victims are the oceans and fish populations that are the birthright of their fellow citizens.

Fishing in Cornwall faces a choice between the industrial model — represented by W Stevenson’s trawlers and the pair trawlers for bass, with their by-catch of dolphins — and a newer, selective, more sustainable model of fishing, represented by a handline fishery for bass, pollack and mackerel, the last of only a handful in Britain to be independently certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Which way do we consumers want fishing to go? I think we know the answer. The trouble is that this judgment has made it harder to get there.

Charles Clover is author of The End of the Line, now a documentary film.

See www.endoftheline.com

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