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Guilty verdict in fishing trial
27 Mar 2015 18:06
The master of the Annelies Ilena, Gerrit Plug, has been found guilty of all three charges of breaching EU fishing regulations.
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The jury in his trial at Donegal Circuit Court returned majority verdicts in relation to two counts and a unanimous verdict on one charge
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Mr Plug was charged with five breaches of regulations but Judge John O'Hagan withdrew two of the charges from the jury this afternoon saying there was not enough evidence to support them.
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The three charges which the jury considered included discarding fish species which should have been kept and failing to record discards over 50kg.
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The Annelies Ilena was boarded by sea fisheries officers from the LÉ Roisin on 22 Nov 2013 as it fished for mackeral and horse mackeral off the coast of Tory Island.
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The state claimed that the vessel was illegally and systematically grading fish so that it maximised the value of its catch.
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Fisheries officers gave evidence that the vessel had been at sea for six weeks and no discards had been recorded.
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There was evidence that Mr Plug had admitted that he had not recorded discards and claimed he did not know that he had to do so.
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Mr Plug denied the charges and his defence counsel said that discards had been recorded and that the vessel had not been able to fill its quota so there was no need to "high-grade" the fish.
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Before they retired, Judge John O'Hagan told the jury that they should not get hung up on the fact that this vessel was formerly the Atlantic Dawn - these were serious charges, he said and it didn't matter what size the boat was big or small, any vessel which broke the regulations was liable to prosecution.
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