The captain of a Libyan-registered fishing vessel who declared his tuna catch to the Maltese authorities belatedly was fined €6,000 by a court after pleading guilty. Furthermore, the court slapped the director of an aquaculture company who also filed an admission with a €1,000 fine.

The  incident happened on the night of June 10 when the captain of the fishing vessel named Cyrene, 55-year-old Francesco Novella from Salerno, called into a Maltese port carrying four tuna fish each weighing 100 kilos.

The captain together with 65-year-old Joseph Mary Fenech from Birkirkara, who is the director of the Salina Aquaculture Limited  were charged with failing to notify the Fisheries Department within the established timeframe in line with regulations for vessels registered outside EU countries.

The prosecution led by police inspector Priscilla Caruana Lee told Magistrate Francesco Depasquale that no details of the tuna were found on the vessel's fishing logbook. However, defence lawyers Veronique Dalli and Dean Hili clarified that that her clients had eventually regularised their position, albeit belatedly. For this reason, the defence request the court to abstain from the prosecution's request for the confiscation of both the fishing vessel and the catch.

On its part the prosecution argued that the charges were of a criminal nature and not administrative ones.

In its decision the court opted to impose separate fines to the defendants but refrained from confiscating the catch and the vessel. Nevertheless, Magistrate Depasquale warned them that if they were to commit such "huge mistake" again they would face a harsher penalty. The court also ordered the defendants to pay for all the expenses related to the investigation

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