Portsmouth fish firm Viviers lands £34,000 court bill

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DIRECTORS of a Portsmouth company have been hit with £34,000 court bill after admitting breaching scallop fishing laws.

Viviers UK Ltd, based at the Camber Dock, off White Hart Road, in Old Portsmouth plead guilty to three offences relating to the taking and retention of under-size shellfish and the removal of oysters from a closed fishery.

And the firm’s directors Eric McLeod, 72, and son Andrew McLeod, 49, also admitted two counts of taking and retaining of undersize shellfish.

Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard how, on December 3, 2015, fisheries officers uncovered a quantity of Manila clams and American hard-shelled clams during an inspection of one of Viviers’ vessels at Camber Docks.

The officers discovered the shellfish were below the minimum size and that a quantity of oysters had also been removed from an fishery that had been closed due to a severe depletion of the scallops.

The court also heard that in a separate incident, on January 5, 2016 at Hamble, Southampton, the McLeod’s boat, El Barco was also found to have a stash of under-sized clams.

The McLeods were sentenced for both matters and ordered to pay £10,000 in fines and the total legal and investigative costs of £18,705.64.

Both were ordered to pay individual fines of £3,000, bringing the total cost to £34,705,65.

Commenting on the case Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority deputy chief officer Ian Jones said: ‘Southern IFCA is committed to protecting these fisheries to ensure healthy seas, sustainable fisheries and a viable industry.

‘This type of illegal activity puts legitimate operators at a disadvantage. By pursuing these matters vigorously through court we aim to support and protect the local fishery.’