|One of the main functions of the Isles of Scilly IFCA is enforcement of local byelaws, relevant European Union regulations and national offences.
In order to carry out its duties and responsibilities under the Marine and Coastal Access Act, the Isles of Scilly IFCA has the use of its RIB “Matt Lethbridge.”
The jurisdiction extends to the boundary of the district, 6 nautical miles from the baselines around the islands.
The Isles of Scilly IFCA also has a cross-warranting agreement with Cornwall IFCA giving their officers full enforcement powers in island waters. The Cornwall IFCA vessel “Saint Piran” (seen below) regularly visits the islands undertaking joint enforcement and training.
Joint enforcement with the Marine Management Organisation is also carried out several times a year through their office in Penzance.
FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTIES (FAP)
A Financial Administrative Penalties system has been introduced across all the English IFCAs. It gives offenders the opportunity to pay a fixed penalty rather than (in certain circumstances) face a criminal prosecution. The FAP system may be seen here - Financial Adminstrative Penalties
CODE OF CONDUCT FOR INSPECTIONS
This Code of Conduct should be read in conjunction with other statutory and policy requirements. This is a framework document and individual Authorities may provide additional information according to specific needs and circumstances.
RESPONSIBILITY DURING INSPECTIONS
Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officers (IFCOs) are employed by Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities to carry out inspections of marine organisms, fishing vessels, fishing equipment and vehicles and to monitor compliance and enforce EU, UK, local fisheries and environmental legislation both ashore and out to 6nm from the coastline. Some IFCOs also enforce on behalf of other government bodies such as the Environment Agency and the Marine Management Organisation.
Whilst carrying out inspections, IFCOs will endeavour to conduct inspections in a courteous and fair manner and will promote a professional image on behalf of the IFCA. IFCOs will state their intentions and may ask for assistance in order to carry out their duties. Those subject to inspection are expected to show a level of cooperation and courtesy that will allow the IFCOs to carry out their duties without fear of reprisal, harassment or abuse and to avoid any action which would amount to obstruction of the IFCO.
Persons subject to inspection must alert the IFCO carrying out the inspection to any potential hazards and it is expected that IFCOs and Masters of vessels being inspected will maintain good communication in order to ensure Health and Safety is not compromised.
On the conclusion of an inspection, the IFCO will inform those inspected of the findings. This may result in words of advice being given or a caution being issued where the person inspected is suspected of not complying with the relevant legislation. If it is necessary to seize equipment during an inspection, the IFCO will issue a receipt.
A lead enforcement officer will indentify him/her self to the skipper of the vessel subject of the inspection. The Officer will explain the reason and purpose of the inspection.
The presence of the skipper can be requested for all or some of the elements of an inspection process. Assistance of the skipper and/or crew must be provided if it is requested .
All IFCO’s carry warrant/ID cards which will be made available for inspection upon request or when it is practicable to do so .
In order to facilitate an inspection, it is expected that Masters of vessels maintain a proper VHF watch on Channel 16 and cooperate and respond when hailed.
In the interests of Health & Safety, Masters will be asked to facilitate a safe boarding for IFCOs carrying out inspections and to cooperate and comply with specific instructions to aid a safe boarding and compliance with legislation. Examples of such requests may be to slow down, to offer a lee or haul gear and provide a suitable boarding ladder. Each individual inspection will dictate the nature of the request made.
It is the intention of the IFCA’s to conduct inspections so far as possible with minimal interference.
The IFCA will endeavour to carry out necessary further investigations leading from inspections in a timely manner.
STANDARD OF DRESS
IFCOs will not always be in uniform when carrying out their duties. However, all IFCOs will present their Warrant Card when identifying themselves.
CONTACTS FOR ENQUIRIES
Any questions about this document, the carrying out of inspections or subsequent investigations or anyone experiencing dissatisfaction during any of these processes can send their concerns in writing to the Chief Officer of the relevant IFCA. The time for responding may depend on the nature of the concerns highlighted but where possible such concerns will be addressed in a timely manner.
Adopted: IFCA Chief Officers Group
COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT STRATEGY
Compliance and enforcement are essential parts of fisheries management in order to ensure that the marine environment is not adversely affected by fishing activities.
Where the Isles of Scilly IFCA undertakes compliance activity, it will work in accordance with the Hampton Principles of Better Regulation as set out in the Regulators’ Compliance Code and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006.
in order to carry out its regulatory functions, the IFCA will ensure that:
- Any action taken, including compliance related or investigative, is proportionate to specific, identified, risk or need for intervention;
- It is accountable for its regulatory activity – to its stakeholders, its partner organisation, Ministers, local taxpayers, the general public and the courts;
- Its actions are consistent, in that it should make similar (but not necessarily the same) decisions about activity in similar circumstances, in accordance with its delegated responsibilities, statutory objectives and guidance;
- Its regulatory actions are transparent, by publishing information to its regulated stakeholders indicating what enforcement action it can take in appropriate circumstances;
- All its activities are, in particular those that would place a ‘burden’ on a regulated person (such as monitoring, inspection, investigation and compliance actions), are targeted using a risk-based approach, ensuring such action is for a specific identifiable need, for example, limiting random inspections to specific identified compliance requirements;
- Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Officers (IFCOs) appointed by the Authority are highly trained, competent and adhere to the national Code of Practice for inspections;
- It works closely with partner organisations to make the best use of available resources and share information.
The Isles of Scilly IFCA will endeavour to use an adaptive co-management approach, where compliance is achieved through engagement, understanding and advice. Where compliance is not achieved by this approach, the IFCA has a range of enforcement actions available to it.
A verbal warning is issued when a minor infringement in legislation is detected. This approach is used to remind persons of relevant legislation and is recorded. If the persons commit a similar offence, the individual involved may face a higher level of enforcement action;
Where it is believed that breaches of the law may have been committed and it is appropriate to do so, an advisory letter may be sent reminding the persons of the need to obey the law. This may be sent without prejudice to other purely civil remedies that are procedures and sanctions, used to prevent or reduce criminal activity as an alternative to using formal court proceedings.
Where there is evidence that an offence has been committed, but it is not appropriate to implement formal prosecution proceedings, an official written warning letter may be sent to the regulated persons outlining the alleged offending, when it occurred and what regulations were breached. It will also set out that it is a matter that could be subject to prosecution should the same behaviour occur in the future. This may be sent without prejudice to other purely civil remedies.
A simple caution may be offered by the IFCA. Issuance of a simple caution may be deemed as the most appropriate means to deal with the offence(s), particularly where there is no identifiable financial gain. A simple caution is only offered when the IFCA is prepared to instigate legal proceedings and prosecute if the persons decide to decline the simple caution.
- Fixed Administrate Penalties
The IFCA may issue a financial administrative penalty (FAP), the level of which may be up to £10,000 as an alternative to criminal prosecution in certain circumstances. Further information on FAPs is available in the IFCA national guidance.
The ability to take criminal prosecutions is essential in discouraging serious non-compliance; the purpose is to secure conviction and ensure that the offender may be punished by a court at an appropriate level, thus acting as a deterrent to any future wrong-doing to both the offender and others who may engage in similar criminal behaviour.
A prosecution may be started where it is felt that the matter is too serious or not suitable for another form of disposal such as a fixed administrative penalty, warning or caution.
In order to prosecute, the IFCA has to be satisfied both that there is sufficient evidence of the alleged offending and that there is a clear public interest in taking criminal proceedings.
The IFCA will only start a prosecution if is satisfied that there is a realistic prospect of conviction against each suspect on each charge on the available evidence. If a case does not pass this test, it will not go ahead regardless of how important or serious it may be.
If a case passes the sufficiency of evidence test, the IFCA will consider whether it is appropriate to prosecute, or whether it is appropriate to exercise one of the enforcement options available to it as set out above. The authority to prosecute is delegated to the Chief Executive and the Maritime Officer. In determining the correct response in any individual case, the IFCA will always take into account the public interest in prosecuting.
The following list of public interest factors in favour and against prosecution is not exhaustive and each case must be considered on its own facts and on its own merits.
- Whether the implications of the offending for the enforcement of the regulatory regime undermines the management approach taken;
- The impact of the offending on the environment, including wildlife, and also, where applicable, having regard to the objectives of the Marine Conservation Zones;
- With regard to offences affecting fish and fish stocks, whether recovery species are involved and any issues as to quota status;
- The financial benefit of the offending or other financial aspects of the offence, including the impact of other legitimate operators;
- Whether the offence was committed deliberately or officials were obstructed during the course of the offending/investigation;
- The previous enforcement record of the offender;
- The attitude of the offender including any action that has been taken to rectify or prevent recurrence of the matter(s);
- Where offences are prevalent or difficult to detect and the deterrent effect on others by making an example of the offender.
A prosecution is less likely to be required if;
· The court is likely to impose a nominal penalty;
· The seriousness and the consequences of the offending can be appropriately dealt with an out-of-court disposal that the person(s) accepts;
· The offence was committed as a result of a genuine marine habitat may be described as minor and was the result of a single incident, particularly if it was caused by a misjudgement;
· The financial gain or disturbance to sensitive marine habitat may be described as minor and was the result of a single incident, particularly if it was caused by a misjudgement;
· There has been a long delay between the offence taking place and the date of the trial, unless there are key mitigating circumstances that caused the delay;
· The person(s) played a minor role in the commission of the offence; the suspect is, or was at the time of the offence, suffering from significant mental or physical ill-health.