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DNA test traps fisherman who tried to cheat.

PIONEERING DNA tests, used to trap a fisherman who was trying to disguise his valuable catch, was yesterday hailed as a breakthrough for the UK fishing industry.

A Belgian boat brought 270kgof fish into Liverpool, which it claimed in its log book to be sand sole -a cheap relative of the Dover sole.

The fish were skinned, beheaded and gutted so it was impossible to tell the difference.

When the fish were sent for DNA testing -a first in the UK -the results came back proving that the fish were Dover sole, a quota-controlled species.

Master of the boat Daniel Savels,and Belgian owners Zeejager,pleaded guilty to log book offences.

They were fined and made to pay legal costs tot alling pounds 9,000 at Liverpool Magistrates'Court.

The case was brought by the Department for Environment,Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) after they discovered the catch during a routine landing inspection in Liverpool on April 24, 2003.

Mike Parker, theNorth West district inspector of fisheries, said the prosecution would send a warning to all fishermen.

``I hope it will send a message out to the fishing industry of all European member states to let them know they cannot get away with this sort of thing,''he said.``The individual concerned,I am sure, will have told his fellow fishermen and word gets around quitequickly.

``The principal issue of the case was one of conservation.

``If anybody was to try to repeat the same act, wen ow have the technology to stop them.''

He continued: ``In light of the European Commission's earlier criticisms of the UK, it shows the Commission that the UK is taking action.''

Describing the way in which the illegal fish were discovered,he said: ``The fish had been skinned, gutted and beheaded -there was no way of telling it from any other flat fish in the sole family.

``The master's record in the log book showed that this fish was sand sole.

``We suspected that that was not the case in the area he had been fishing.

``We took a representative sample of his catch of fish -we could not say which was Dover sole and which was sand sole, so we sent them away for DNA testing.''

Mr Parker added that the fish were tested twice to make sure the methodology was correct.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 14, 2004
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