Two persons operating a trawler illegally were convicted at the Eastern Magistrates' Courts today (March 22) for violating the Fisheries Protection Regulations. Other four persons had also been convicted earlier for violating the concerned Regulations.
A spokesman of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said that AFCD officers and the Marine Police intercepted the hang trawl fishing vessel trawling in the waters south of Cheung Chau in an anti-illegal fishing operation on November 30, 2016. About 300 catties of catch and some trawling gear were seized on board the vessel. Subsequent to follow-up investigations, the AFCD charged the seven persons on the following day (December 1).
Four men were earlier convicted for using a prohibited apparatus for the purpose of fishing and were sentenced to imprisonment of two months and suspended for one year. Another man has been released after further investigation due to insufficient evidence.
Another man was convicted today (March 22) for using a prohibited apparatus for the purpose of fishing and failing to mark the certificate of ownership number on the vessel, and was sentenced to imprisonment of two months, suspended for one year, and fined $1,000 respectively. A woman was bound over for one year for using a prohibited apparatus for the purpose of fishing and failing to mark the certificate of ownership number on the vessel, and was fined $1,000 for failing to stop the vessel when required. The concerned fishing apparatus were also forfeited.
The ban on trawling came into force on December 31, 2012. Any person who contravenes the ban and is convicted is liable to a maximum penalty of a fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for six months under the Fisheries Protection Ordinance.
Trawling is a non-selective fishing operation which damages the seabed and marine ecosystems. A ban on trawling activities brings the harmful depletion to an immediate halt, enabling marine ecosystems to be gradually rehabilitated to a sustainable level and be better conserved in the long run.
The spokesman said, "The AFCD and the Police will continue to carry out joint enforcement operations to crack down on illegal fishing activities."