One of the vessels owned by Hijos de Vidal Bandin SA accused of serious fishing crime. (Photo: Stock File)
Historical EUR 2 million fine for Spanish shipowner
Friday, July 27, 2012, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The company that owns the vessels Coyo Tercero and O Genita, Hijos de Vidal Bandín SA and its British subsidiary Sealskill Ltd. were fined by a court in Edinburgh with GBP 1.62 million (EUR 2 million) for serious fishing crime.
According to the court ruling, both companies were convicted of illegal fishing for hake and ling, performed in 2009 and in 2010.
The magistrate in charge of the case, Graham Cottle, determined that the activity of the two fishing vessels represented "a cynical, repeated and systematic breach of the quota system set by the European Union (EU) over a period of 18 months."
Besides, he added that the captains of both ships incurred in "a prolonged, repeated and flagrant breach of regulations" with "foreknowledge, complicity and under the direction of the Spanish company."
The Spanish shipowner and its British subsidiary announced that they would appeal the decision of Justice due to the "wrong implementation of EU rules on penalties, the abuse of procedures and the discriminatory treatment to the cases of the British-owned ships," they expressed in a joint press release.
Hijos de Baudín SA and Sealskill Ltd. will have to pay GBP 500,000 (EUR 638,000) within a year and the employers will have to pay GBP 250,000 (EUR 319,000) within three months. In addition, they will have to be responsible for the payment of damages and legal fees, the agency Europa Press reported.
In order to release the ships and reduce the amount of the fine, the employers and businesses admitted having declared lower catches than the actual ones and certain operations involving the transfers of fresh fish around the British coast.
Violators will be applied the Regulation 1005/2008, which implements fines for severe penalty with an amount that equals five times the value of the fishery products and not the gross profit, although it entered into force in January 2010. Therefore, the companies concerned argue that the regulation "does not apply to more than two thirds of the investigated period."
Both companies reported "a very different treatment" to the one received by the British ship owners, which in similar cases are sanctioned with fines of far less value.
In this sense, they consider that the current fishing dispute with Gibraltar has contributed in the British media "to stoke the nationalist argument against the Spanish ship owners in the UK, causing more than 10 years, the bankruptcy of many companies with Spanish capital that then had to be compensated by the British Government."
Meanwhile, Ariana Densham, from Greenpeace, who was present at the trial and the judgment, said that "this group of people should not be allowed to continue fishing near the UK."
"The right to fish Vidal´s firm has should be completely cancelled," she pointed out.
"The system that allowed this to happen needs to be fixed. This is not an isolated case; it is a symptom of absurd European fisheries rules," Densham added, according to The Guardian.
By Analia Murias