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Weymouth boat skippers protest at Southern IFCA meeting
BOAT skippers and their supporters turned out in force to protest against fisheries chiefs.
Charter boat owners and anglers from along the coast gathered outside the offices of the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) in Poole yesterday.
The protest coincided with a Southern IFCA meeting where members agreed an emergency bylaw that would allow recreational fishermen to use boats longer than 12 metres for trips as long as there were no more than 12 people in the boat.
The fisheries authority made the emergency bylaw in response to a ruling by the Court of Appeal in London that a Weymouth charter boat owner could use his craft legally.
Patrick Carlin, who runs Carlin Boat Charter Limited, claimed victory last week over Southern IFCA after it brought a prosecution against his firm for fishing in a boat, Channel Chieftain V, off Portland Bill and Shambles Bank because it was more than 12m long.
The skippers said the aim of yesterday’s protest was to ensure that fisheries’ chiefs listened to their concerns in future.
The legal battle dates back to when the European Angling Championships were taking place locally four years ago.
Mr Carlin’s case was that a bylaw preventing boats larger than 12m from fishing within six miles of the coast was aimed at commercial fishing vessels and not recreational anglers.
The case was taken through the legal system by Southern IFCA to the High Court where Mr Carlin finally claimed victory.
Mr Carlin was at the protest yesterday.
He said: “We are sort of happy with the decision, obviously it’s what we wanted in the first place.
“This was a bylaw they tried to bend round just to prosecute me.
“It was never the intention the original bylaw should be used that way.”
Chairman of the Weymouth and Portland Licensed Skippers Assoc-iation and one of the directors of the Professional Boatman’s Association Chris Caines said that he was very pleased with the way the peaceful protest had gone.
He said: “I’m very pleased with the turnout. We had skippers from Langstone to Lyme Regis and quite a few anglers turned up to show their support.”
The protestors waved placards and handed out leaflets to the public.
Mr Caines said he was pleased that the emergency bylaw had been passed but said: “It would be lovely to ask them the question, ‘Why did it take you so long?’ “It’s a shame but there you are.”
He added: “It’s caused a lot of people grief, heartache and worry.”
HIGH COURT RULING ‘gives clarity’
IN A statement released after the court judgement Southern IFCA said that the case had given clarity to the legal position and it would be moving forward.
Speaking after the decision to apply for the emergency bylaw Chief Officer Ian Carrier said: “We are moving forward in accordance with the court decision.”
He added: “The committee has decided to apply for an emergency bylaw. It will allow fishing recreationally.”
Mr Carrier said that recreational vessels could be over 12m in length but were limited to 12 passengers. He added that the next step would be to start the process for a permanent bylaw.
Mr Carrier said that the process would start ‘very soon.’