At Portsmouth Magistrates Court in January, James Cook, 62 years of Yeovil, Somerset pleaded guilty to setting a drift net in the Emsworth channel within Chichester Harbour causing an obstruction to a sailing yacht contrary to Chichester Harbour Byelaw 7 – Vessels used in Fishing.
On 2 January 2024, the court heard how in the afternoon on Monday 10 July 2023 two persons onboard a sailing yacht were travelling down the Emsworth Channel near the entrance to the Emsworth Yacht Harbour when their propellor became entangled with a fishing net that had been set across the navigable channel causing the yacht to lose power and steerage. Mr Cook, the Master of the fishing vessel Black Betty and another onboard appeared shortly after the incident and attempted to pull the net free from the yacht. Fortunately, the yacht was able to tie up alongside a mooring and eventually use sail to get safely alongside Emsworth Quay.
Commenting on the case, Captain Jo Cox, Harbourmaster for the Chichester Harbour Conservancy, said:
“Legislation is put in place to protect the safe navigation throughout the harbour and in this case a sailing yacht was entangled in a net in a navigation channel which fortunately did not escalate to a more dangerous situation, however it certainly had the potential to do so”.
Captain Cox further added:
“Harbour Authorities are responsible for managing and running safe and efficient harbours. They have responsibilities in relation to the safety of vessels and people within the harbour. Whilst there is some commercial netting in the harbour, it can occur at times when it is difficult to detect, and in addition drift nets must always be attended at all times. A successful prosecution in relation to this matter provides a strong message to commercial net fishers and harbour users and provide assurance to legal operators that this type of incident will not be tolerated.”
Mr COOK was fined £750, ordered to pay costs of £1033.54 and a victim surcharge of £300 totalling £2083.54.
A full list of Chichester Harbour Conservancy Byelaws together with other valuable information for harbours users can be found on our website. Fishing regulations pertinent to Chichester Harbour can also be found on the website and on the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority website www.sussex-ifca.gov.uk