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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 20:35 GMT
Fisherman smashed fishing quota
Haydn Jones aboard the Prince of Wales
The prosecution said the case against Mr Jones was unusual
A fisherman who caught 10 times more cod from the Irish Sea than he was should have has been found guilty of breaching European fishing quotas.

Haydn Jones, of Trearddur Bay, Anglesey, north Wales, argued that he had no choice but to break the law in order to make a living.

He could have been given an unlimited fine, but was discharged by the judge at Mold Crown Court on condition he does not offend again within two years.

Jones, 67, who has been a fisherman for 50 years, was ordered to pay 3,000 costs.

He denied two offences of breaching a fishing licence when master of a boat named the Pride of Wales.

Simon Medland, prosecuting, said Mr Jones caught 1,004kg and 1,317kg of cod in January and February last year when he was allowed only 100 kg per month.

Mr Medland told the jury: "I think it is right that I should say, it is a matter for you that Mr Jones doesn't actually have a defence in this case at all.

"However angry he may be about the politics of the matter... and he may be right or wrong I don't know... that is not for me to say, nor with respect for you."

Martin Hearn, from the Inspector of Fisheries
Martin Hearn said fishermen needed to obey quotas

He said Mr Jones had been entirely open and honest about his fishing returns and sale of fish which showed he had broken the law.

Mr Jones was licensed in the St George's Channel in the Irish Sea, and, as a single fisherman, the terms of his licenses were more rigid than they were for a co-operative.

The jury was told that most cod is dead before it comes on the boat but, if a fisherman exceeds his quota, he should throw the excess back.

After the verdict Jones said the case highlighted what "the British government was doing to the small fisherman".

Martin Hearn, from the Inspector of Fisheries, which brought the action, said fishermen must understand the message that they had to fish within quotas if they wanted to retain "a national asset".

The matter of EU quotas on fishing stocks in UK waters has been a controversial subject for many years.

In October the scientists who advise the EU on fish quotas, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (Ices), recommended a ban on cod fishing off the Irish Sea, west of Scotland and North Sea until stocks have recovered.

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