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Employee at Irish seafood company fined for obstructing sea-fisheries protection officers

27th November 2008

Mr Micheal Geary, Assistant Manager at Union Hall Fishermen’s Company Ltd. was charged on seven counts relating to the obstruction of Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers and ordered to pay fines totalling €7,000, in a case brought before Skibbereen District Court, Co Cork on the 25th November 2008, by the Gardaí at the request of the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority.

Mr Micheal Geary was found guilty of obstructing Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers while they were investigating the landings and sale of allegedly illegal fish at the premises of Union Hall Fishermen’s Company in Skibbereen on the 29th November 2007. Evidence was provided in court by Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers that Mr Micheal Geary refused to co-operate with an investigation into the origin of a significant quantity of high value fish including cod and monkfish found on the premises.

During the course of their investigation, Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers discovered 250 boxes of fish including 60 boxes of cod, which was caught at a time when fishing for the species was prohibited within fishing grounds off the South coast. Sea-Fisheries Protection Officers told the court that Mr Michael Geary refused to answer lawful questions concerning where the fish came from. The SFPA subsequently sold the fish for €20,418.95 on the open market - the Court directed that the proceeds of the sale will be forfeited to the State.

EU fisheries legislation protects and endeavours to re-build damaged, depleted fish stock through catch limits. Cod and monkfish are species that need such protection – fisheries scientists advise that high value species such as cod and monkfish are being over exploited.

Peter Whelan, Chairman of the SFPA said: “this case is significant as it highlights the fact that everyone involved in the fishing industry from the skipper of a fishing boat to the manager of a seafood company has a responsibility to comply with the law.”

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