A Belgian trawler caught fishing illegally inside the UK’s 12-mile limit was ordered to pay more than £12,000.

The master and owner of the Sonja Z19 pleaded guilty at Ipswich Magistrates Court after being boarded by HMS Quorn last Friday and taken to Harwich.

The court heard that the trawler had been fishing inside the 12-mile limit on two consecutive days. The court fined the master and owner £500 each, plus £8,000 for the fish caught and £3,100 costs.

A Marine Fisheries Agency spokesperson said: “This punishment should act as a deterrent to anyone who tries to flout the 12-mile limit at the expense of local fishing fleets whose livelihoods depend on the fish there.

“We take seriously our job of enforcing European and UK laws and we will take action against anyone caught breaking the rules, to protect the long-term viability and sustainability of the fishing industry.”