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Illegal scallop fishing lands skippers hefty fines

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Accord M90: The vessel upon which the crimes were committed

Accord M90: The vessel upon which the crimes were committed

THREE fisherman appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court on Monday (Mar 21) to face multiple charges, relating to fisheries offences committed in March and April 2014, and November 2013.
42-year-old Lee Wonnacott of Richard John Road in Milford Haven, and Mark Alberry of Gloucester Terrace in Haverfordwest, both pleaded guilty to dredging fishing contrary to restrictions, and contravening an order relating to the regulation of nets and other fishing gear.
​​Also in the dock was​ Timothy Bowman-Davies​ the owner of​ ​TBD Fishing Limited, who pleaded guilty to six offences of the same nature.

Prosecuting the case on behalf of the Welsh Government was James Subbiani, who told the court that the charges related to breaches of scallop fishing and prohibition fishing methods.
He said that the fishing vessel that Wonnacott and Alberry were sailing upon, Accord M90, was owned by a local company, TBD Fishing Ltd.
He said: “Between November 22 and 25, 2013, they left Fishguard Port and travelled to Cardigan Bay. They were undertaking fishing activities – a significant part of which was conducted in closed areas under the 2010 order of the Sea Fish (Conservation) Act 1967.
“They took a number of tows, then moved to North Lleyn. Here, a number of horse muscles are protected, and all fishing is prohibited: That area was targeted.”
On that occassion, the Accord M90 was skippered by Alberry. Mr Subbiani said that it “seems” to be that he deliberately targeted the prohibited area, due to the greater yield.
My Subbiani explained that analysis has shown that the areas that are closed to fishing have recovered significantly, and provided research to show that the scallops harvested, which were landed at Bangor, Gave a profit of over £3,000.
He said: “The offences came to light when fisheries officers analysed that tracking data. This is done under two systems called VMS Plus and Sucker Fish. The analysis identified this trip.”
The court heard how Alberry declined requests for interview, and difficulties arose relating to the identification of the skipper at the time of the offence.
Mr Subbiani took that moment to thank TBD Fishing Ltd for their compliance, and providing evidence relating to the identification to the skipper so that the prosecution could go ahead. However, due to the company being liable for the action of the skippers, this action landed the company in court in addition tot he skippers in doing so.
Mr Subbiani went on to say that on March 26 and April 4, Wonnacott was the skipper. A research vessel was undertaking work to ascertain information regarding the amount of scallops in Cardigan Bay, and that the outcome was that they found there had been a significant yield.
He said: “On April 4, 2014, support officers saw the vessel actively engaged in fishing activities in an enclosed area, and the Accord M90 was photographed.
“Wonnacott said he fell asleep and the vessel wandered into the enclosed area.”
He continued: “The Welsh Government Fisheries Office undertook further analysis, and found another trip on March 26.
“Cardigan Bay is a place of conservation, and has the highest levels of protection for sea beds, reefs, dolphins and whales. On too many occasions, I come to court as vessels have strayed.”
Mr Subbiani told the magistrates: “I have prosecuted Wonnacott before after he had been fishign in Cardigan Bay. He pleaded guilty to two offenced and was fined £7,000 – it seems he has not learnt his lesson.”
​T​he court also heard how TBD Fishing Ltd have taken steps to ensure that this will not happen again, but no longer engaging in scallop fishing, and not allowing anybody other than the owner, Timothy Bowman-Davies or his son be the Master of a vessel.
Defence solicitor, Mark Layton said: “Timothy Bowman-Davies is the owner of the company, and through this dredging gained just under £10,000. However, the accounts ending May 31, 2014 and May 31, 2015 show a loss.
“There was a slight profit in 2013, but in 2014 suffered a huge loss in excess of £50,000. This attributes to the business venture relating to scallop fishing.
“TBD Fishing Ltd have never appeared before court in the past, and although Bowman-Davies is in the dock, he also appears as a prosecution wistness, in effect, against himself..”
Mr Layton told the court how Bowman-Davies had explained who was on board and how much was made, and he instructed the to go to Milford Haven’s Fisheries Office to make sure they understood the legalities of dredging for shellfish.
Mr Layton said: “He believed they would know where to go, and said that they were experienced fisherman and does not condone illegal fishing. Now, only he and his son are in control of the boats, and they no longer fish for scallops.
“It’s like someone having a company car and going for a frolic – he had no control over the skippers or what they were doing as he was not there.”
After considering the evidence, magistrates fined TBD Fishing Ltd a total of £2,000, and ordered that the company pays £100 victim surcharge and £763.50 costs to the Crown Proscution Service.
Both Lee Wonnacott and Mark Alberry must pay a fine of £1,000 each, and each pay a victim surcharge of £100 and costs to the Crown Prosecution Service of £763.50.

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Covid-19 vaccination venues and timeline announced for everyone locally over 50

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EVERY person in JCVI priority groups 5 to 9 will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination by 18 April, Hywel Dda University Health Board has confirmed.

While the health board’s vaccination programme has the capacity to offer a vaccine to everyone in groups 5 to 9 by the original target date of 4 April, the delivery plan has had to be adjusted based on confirmed vaccine deliveries.

Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, and Pembrokeshire residents in priority groups 5 to 9 can expect to receive their vaccine as follows:

  • Group 5, people aged 65 – 69 years – delivered by GP practices between 15 February and 12 March
  • Group 6, people aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions and unpaid carers – delivered by GP practices between 22 February and 4 April
  • Group 7, people aged 60 – 64 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 8 March
  • Group 8, people aged 55 – 59 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 22 March
  • Group 9, people aged 50 – 54 years – delivered by mass vaccination centres starting 5 April

The health board currently has mass vaccination centres located in Aberystwyth, Cardigan, Haverfordwest, Tenby, Carmarthen and Llanelli.

Group 6 is significantly the largest cohort to be vaccinated to date and we understand that many in this group will be anxious to receive a vaccine. Please do not contact your GP or the health board to ask about your appointment, you will be contacted directly when it is your turn and we thank you for your patience.

People in groups 7, 8 and 9 will receive a letter with an appointment date and time. Please arrive as close to your appointment time as possible. The letter will include a phone number to contact the health board should you need to rearrange or cancel your appointment but please make every effort to keep your allocated appointment time.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “While  our programme has had to slow  due to supplies, we want to reassure everyone in groups 5 to 9 that our amazing teams of vaccinators and GP practices have the capability and flexibility to deliver our vaccine supplies as they arrive into the region.

“Vaccine supplies will start to increase again from mid-March, and we are confident that everyone living in our three counties in the top 9 priority groups will be offered a vaccine by mid-April.

“In Hywel Dda we have an older population compared to some other health boards and so over 50% of our adult population will have been offered a vaccine by milestone 2.

“To be able to say that as we approach the anniversary of the first national lockdown is nothing short of extraordinary.

“And again, I must say thank you to everyone living in our three counties who continue to come forward in substantial numbers for the vaccine. Uptake remains remarkably high and we hope to see this continue through groups 5 to 9 and into group 10.”

People are asked, wherever possible, to use their own private transport to attend an appointment. Lifts can be accepted from someone in their household or support bubble, but not from anyone else due to the risk of transmission of the virus.

The health board has put in place transport support for anyone who may have difficulty attending their vaccination appointment. If you have no other means of travel, please contact the health board on 0300 303 8322 and we will be happy to assist.

Everyone in priority groups 1 to 4 should have received an offer of a vaccination. If you have not been contacted, or have changed your mind, please contact your GP at the earliest opportunity. No one will be left behind.

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Nolton Haven: Man hospitalised after getting into difficulties in sea

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A MAN was taken to hospital after getting into difficulties in the sea off Nolton Haven on Friday.

Emergency services were alerted at 2.40pm on February 26 by a 999 call to the control centre.

The Little Haven RNLI lifeboat, Broad Haven Coastguard, an ambulance crew and a Coastguard rescue helicopter assisted police in the operation.

The male casualty was stabilised on the beach and shortly before 4.30pm, was then transported to Withybush Hospital.

A police spokesman told The Herald: “We were called to a male who had got into difficulties in the water at Nolton Haven shortly before 3pm.

“He was taken to hospital by ambulance.”

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Cyclist killed on A40 was serving police officer, force confirms

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A CYCLIST who died after a crash with a van on the A40 in Carmarthenshire was a serving police officer with Dyfed-Powys Police, the force has confirmed in a statement to Herald.Wales.

The driver of the van involved in the crash, which happened on Thursday (Feb 25) has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, it was confirmed on Friday (Feb 26).

Police are investigating the fatal collision, which caused the road to be closed for 12 hours, and are asking for any witnesses to come forward by calling 101.

37-year-old Lynwen Thomas, who is a former student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog, Carmarthen, was a sergeant and a very well-respected member of Dyfed-Powys Police.

A spokesperson for the police said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues, who have all been offered specialist support. We ask that family members are given the privacy they need at this difficult time.”

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