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Newlyn Fish Market - boats due to land.

Monday, 2 September 2013

The last of the hunters

Just sent this letter (recorded delivery) to the MMO. 

Marine Management Organisation 
2nd Sept 13

Fisheries Dept

Dear Sir, 

My name is Steve Barratt and I am the skipper of the Ramsgate registered fishing boat the ‘Razorbill’. I am a very responsible fisherman that cares deeply about the environment and in particular the protection of fish stocks. 

A few examples of how I fish are as follows:

1) When fishing for cod I use a minimum mesh size of 150mm which is far bigger than the legal size required by law. 

2) When fishing for Dover sole I use a minimum mesh size of 115mm which again is way above the legal limit.

3) When fishing for lobster I use a minimum measurement of 90mm and the legal size limit to land them is only 87mm. 

I strongly object to being treated like a criminal by one of your fisheries officers a Mr Mark Thane who naturally assumes that all fishermen break the law. He has been seen on several occasions hiding behind net bins waiting to pounce on honest hard working fishermen and then proceed to make their life a misery. Such are is actions I can only assume he was probably a fisherman (and not a very good one) in the past and is living with a huge chip on his shoulder. Last week I tied up on the slipway at Ramsgate to unload my catch, and low and behold the fisheries officer in question sneaked out from behind the net bins as if he was playing a game of hide and seek. Surely he must be intelligent enough to realize that every fisherman in Ramsgate knows when he is about as we all phone each other and pass on the warning! 

My catch was inspected and all of my lobsters were way above the minimum size. Unable to find a problem here he decided to ‘sieze’ a few lobster claws and tails that were being taken home for personal consumption and advise me that I had broken the law. Due to the fact that it was obvious that the tails in question were from lobsters probably double the size limit I photographed them with a tape measure next to them before he took them. 

The reason I had the claws and tails was because the lobsters had got crushed in my net hauler, and were unsellable and would not have survived had I put them back. I did not even know that it was illegal to land them and have been unable to find anything in any of your rules and regulations that states it is. If the ruling is correct, I assume it is to stop people tailing undersize lobsters and there was no chance whatsoever that these lobsters were anywhere near the minimum size never mind under. 

I would appreciate it if you could clarify the situation for me so that I can avoid this unnecessary waste of time in future. 

If it is illegal to land these odd few tails, could I have stuck them back to the bodies with gaffa tape or would your fisheries officer have argued that the wrong body was stuck to the wrong tail. 

Could you also confirm (if it is illegal) that the ruling applies to lobsters caught outside the 12 mile limit, because these particular ones were. 

Could you also advise me if there is any way I can put a claim in for the £50 worth of lobster that was seized. 

It is very unfortunate that the MMO employs people with this attitude, somebody with a good understanding of the industry and some commonsense would be better for both yourselves and fishermen in general. We are not criminals, the majority of us are hard working honest fishermen and deserve to be treated accordingly. 

 Yours faithfully