ENVIRONMENT

Britain hands down historic fines to Spanish fishermen

Company falsified quotas for hake, a species then on verge of collapse

A British court on Thursday handed down some of the largest fines in Britain's maritime history to a group of Spanish fishermen after they were found guilty of falsifying log books and tampering with fishing quotas.

A total of 1.6 million pounds in fines was imposed on two companies — Hijos de Vidal Bandín SA of Ribeira, Galicia, and Sealskill Limited — owned by the Spanish Vidal family by a Truro court following a two-day hearing.

Fishermen from the Spanish vessels, which had been sailing under the British flag, were found guilty of violating 2009 and 2010 hake quotas that are imposed on British fishermen under the European Union's common fisheries policies.

"[This was a] flagrant, repeated and long term abuse of regulations. The fish targeted was at the time a species of fish on the verge of collapse and adherence to quotas was seen as crucial to the survival of the species," said Judge Graham Cottle.

Greenpeace representatives who attended the hearing said the fine was enough. "The Vidals' right to fish should be removed completely," Ariana Densham, an oceans campaigner, told The Guardian. "This group of people should never be allowed near UK fishing quotas again"

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