Judges today threw out a legal challenge to the management of cod for under 10 metre fishing boats in UK waters.

The Court of Appeal rejected claims by two Hastings skippers that the cod catch limits were unworkable and discriminatory. Today’s significant decision reinforces the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ability to manage cod stocks for the under 10 metre fishing boats.

The Court agreed that there was no legal or evidential basis to suggest that it would be disproportionate, as required by Community law, for the under 10 metre fleet to keep some sort of record of the quantity of fish caught and sold.

Defra originally successfully prosecuted the Hasting skippers, Mr Paul Joy and Mr Graeme Bossom, in January 2005, at Lewes Crown court. Fines and legal costs totalling £14,000 were awarded against two Hastings skippers who pleaded guilty to landing cod significantly exceeding the monthly limits.

Angus Radford, District Inspector, Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA), said:

“Today’s verdict is significant as it reinforces Defra’s ability to manage the fleet in the correct and proper manner to safeguard this vital fishery.

“The fines and costs upheld by the Court demonstrate the severity of the fisheries offences committed and these penalties should be seen as a real deterrent to anyone fishing illegally. We all want a long-term future for our fishing industry.”

One of Defra’s main priorities is to create a sustainable and viable fishing industry and marine environment. Conservation of fish stocks is a key part of ensuring a long term and profitable future for the fishing industry.