Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Twenty-Sixth Report


Memorandum by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

(S.I. 1998/268)


1.  The Committee has requested a memorandum concerning the above instruments in the following terms:

    Article 5 of the first Order provides for the issue of a warrant of distress (or in Scotland, arrestment) against the boat, its gear and catch to recover a fine imposed for an offence under article 3 (offences relating to fishing). Article 5 of the second Order makes this form of recovery also available for an offence under article 10 (obstruction of officers).

    If it is intended in the second Order to make distress available in the case of an obstruction offence, explain the reason for this and why the remedy is not made available for such an offence in the first Order.

2.  Section 30(2) of the Fisheries Act 1981 provides that Orders made under that sub-section may contain provisions which (with any necessary modifications) apply or correspond to any relevant provision of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967 or the Sea Fisheries Act 1968. Article 5 of the second Order corresponds to section 12 of the Sea Fisheries Act 1968. That section similarly makes the power of distress available in respect of an obstruction offence under section 10 of that Act (article 10 of that Order corresponds to section 10) as well as the substantive fishing offence created by section 5 of that Act. As the Committee has observed, article 5 of the first Order is more limited in scope, being applicable in respect of the substantive fishing offence only.

3.  The discrepancy between the two Orders in this respect is historic. The second Order, of course, relates only to vessels which are registered in countries outside the EU. Historically it may have been thought preferable in such cases to provide courts in the United Kingdom with a sufficient range of powers to deal with the vessel and its owners while the vessel was present in the jurisdiction. However, in the light of the Committee's questions the Departments will examine the issue afresh so that appropriate (and in so far as is possible, consistent) provision may be made when next year's Orders are drafted.

2nd March 1998

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