Hastings fisherman fined for obstructing officer by hiding fish in a bin

Hastings Law Courts
Hastings Law Courts

A Hastings fisherman has been fined for obstructing a fisheries officer by hiding his catch of bass in a public waste bin.

Simon Coglan, of Sturdee Place, pleaded guilty to the charge of obstructing a fisheries officer when he appeared at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on June 18, 2019.

The prosecution followed an inspection conducted by fisheries and conservation officers from the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) on October 11, 2018.

The court heard that on that date, Mr Coglan intentionally obstructed an enforcement officer in the performance of the officer’s functions by evading inspection and trying to hide his catch of bass in a public waste bin, according to an IFCA spokesman.

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The Sussex IFCA had issued two administrative penalties, to the total value of £250, to Mr Coglan for offences committed on the same date. The court heard that the penalties were in respect to illegal commercial fishing for bass with nets from the shore, and the retention of bass below the legal minimum size.

The court gave Mr Coglan a one-year conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £750 in costs for the offence of obstructing a fisheries officer, under section 292(4) of the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009.

Chief Fisheries and Conservation Officer Tim Dapling said: “The obstruction of a fisheries officer is regarded by the authority as a serious offence. This is reflected within the law, as such an offence cannot be addressed by means of a financial penalty and requires courts to consider these offences.

“The authority hopes this provides a clear message that, individuals should always cooperate with fisheries officers while they undertake their work to protect stocks and promote sustainable fisheries.”

Sussex IFCA has a duty to manage the sustainable exploitation of sea fisheries resources and take necessary steps to balance socio-economic considerations with the need to protect and promote the recovery of the marine environment.