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pounds 216,000 fine for fishing fraud.

Byline: ANTHONY STONE

AN Anglo-Spanish vessel caught carrying out a major pounds 170,000 fishing fraud was yesterday fined pounds 216,000 for 14 separate offences.

A warrant for the detention of the vessel's Spanish skipper, Juan Jose Santos, has also been issued after he failed to appear in court.

Santos, of La Coruna, northern Spain, was in charge of the Haverfordwest-registered Lady Laura at the time of the offences.

Vessel owner Greenopen Ltd yesterday admitted failing to submit accurate logbooks during two, two-month long, fishing trips from West Wales in 2000 and 2001.

Carmarthen Crown Court heard that Santos had submitted paperwork claiming most of his catch was low-value, nonquota, shark.

But in reality he was catching large amounts of valuable, quota-controlled anglerfish off the west coasts of Scotland and Ireland.

He would then steam back to Spain with the illicit catch and submit fraudulent paperwork to the Milford Haven office of the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

The court heard yesterday the suspicions of Defra's inspectors, who brought the prosecution, were aroused by studying the vessel's log sheets.

``It appeared their entries had been altered by overwriting so that what had originally read `ANF' for anglerfish now read `SHARK','' a Defra spokesman said.

``The value of non-recorded anglerfish is estimated by Defra to be in the region of pounds 170,000,'' he added.

Fisheries Minister Elliot Morley welcomed the sentence yes t erday.

``Dishonest behaviour like this undermines the long-term future of all fisherman,'' he said. ``The Government will resolutely pursue those who flout fisheries law.''
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Words:261
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