Page last updated at 17:56 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 18:56 UK

Fish firm ordered to pay 710,000

Elizabeth Stevenson
Elizabeth Stevenson is a former industry president

Cornish fishing firm W Stevenson and Son has been ordered to pay £710,000 after it cheated on quotas.

The firm was convicted in 2007 of eight charges relating to the illegal landing and sale of quota fish at Newlyn. It pleaded guilty to another 37 charges.

An earlier confiscation hearing heard the firm benefited by more than £4m.

But in making the payment order, a judge at Exeter Crown Court took into account the possible effect a larger amount could have on the local economy.

Falsified records

The firm was also ordered to pay £66,000 costs.

At the trial in 2007, Exeter Crown Court was told that during six months in 2002 almost a quarter of fish landed by a sample of 20 Stevenson vessels was illegal.

Cod, hake and anglerfish were falsely described as non-quota, lower-value species such as ling, turbot and bass.

It's not going to be easy to find this sum of money
Elizabeth Stevenson
W Stevenson and Son

The Stevenson firm, which runs auctions where the fish are sold, also falsified the auction records to make sure they matched the figures provided by the skippers.

This enabled them to break the European rules designed to save dwindling fish stocks.

The firm is run by Elizabeth Stevenson, former president of the National Federation of Fisheries Organisations.

She said after the case: "We are grateful that the judge recognised our contribution to the local and national fishing industry and the local economy.

"It's not going to be easy to find this sum of money. It's huge, but the case has ended well."

She added: "We haven't got away with it. It's absolute hell to take part in a case like this."

Earlier this year, the owners and skippers of six Newlyn fishing boats were fined for their part in the scam.

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