FISHERMAN Paul Joy claims to be the victim of a personal vendetta, after being ordered to pay over £5,000 for catching more than his quota of cod.
This refers to fish caught in January 2012, however the decision by the Marine Management Organisation to prosecute was not made until Christmas Eve last year.
He was fined £2,000 for the offence, £112 for the value of the fish, and ordered to pay £2,523.16 legal costs, £675 investigation costs and a £15 victim surcharge.
The total penalty was £5,325.16.
Mr Joy, chair of Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society, said that he was being singled out for unfair treatment because of his prominent position in the fishing community.
He said: “I have always admitted from day one that I caught the fish, I made a genuine mistake.
“On that day, many other boats were ignored. It is a targeted vendetta, they are trying to silence me. All I want is a level playing field.
“On the day in question, I had a 50kg allocation and kept what I thought was the right amount - two and a half boxes worth - and dumped the rest overboard. I estimated the amount to my best ability.”
Mr Joy was found to be 40kg over his quota for cod. He received a summons on Christmas Eve last year, and the case was heard at Hastings Magistrates Court on January 14.
Rachel Forster, senior press officer at the Marine Management Organisation, said: “We recognise that the vast majority of the fishing industry is compliant with the rules that govern its commercial activities and aim to encourage compliance with fisheries legislation through education, advice and guidance to the industry wherever possible. Unfortunately enforcement action is necessary in some cases.”
Mr Joy continually campaigns for a fairer deal for the under 10 metre fishing fleet with regard to quotas, which are extremely restrictive, particularly for cod, which is seen as the main issue.
In 2006, Mr Joy and fellow Hastings fisherman Graeme Bossom, took their fight to the Court of Appeal and lost, after being fined for exceeding their monthly cod quota.
They argued that the conditions on their fishing licences were an unfair burden and not in accordance with EC regulations, however judges rejected the appeal.
Further restrictions on cod fishing are expected this year, with the quota for fishing cod in the 7d area, which includes the fishing fleets at Hastings and Rye, set to be cut by a third.