At a hearing on Friday 27th August at Folkestone Magistrates Court, the owner/skipper of a UK Registered fishing trawler was prosecuted following an incident in the Traffic Separation Scheme off Texel, Netherlands on the 9th January 2009.
On the morning of 9th January 2009 the Netherlands Coastguard observed on radar an unidentified vessel steaming the wrong way down the northbound lane of the Off Texel Traffic Separation Scheme. About 40 minutes later the vessel was observed by the Netherlands Coastguard passing within one cable of a northbound vessel. An aircraft operated by the Netherlands Coastguard was sent to identify the vessel which it did as the UK registered fishing vessel Wilhelmina (LT60). The Wilhelmina was fishing at the time of the incident.
The incident was initially investigated by the North Sea Unit of the Netherlands Water Police. Investigations showed that the incident occurred in International Waters and the matter was therefore reported to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) for further investigation.
The owner/skipper of the Wilhelmina, Rense Johannes de Boer of Urk in the Netherlands was fined £3,500 plus £3,752.20 costs.
In summing up the Magistrates said: “You changed direction in a designated shipping lane for 4.5 miles, in direct contravention of Rule 10(b) I. No action was made to alert the local authorities or other ships of that manoeuvre. You are an experienced seafarer. Your early plea of guilty was taken into account”.
David Fenner, Principal Fishing Vessel Surveyor for the Eastern Region of the MCA said: ”Mr de Boer could have fished quite legally within the lane had he proceeded in the general direction of traffic flow for that lane. By failing to do so he placed himself, his vessel and crew and other users of the Traffic Separation Scheme at risk.
”The MCA expects all UK vessels to observe the requirements of Rule 10 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1974, as amended in any Traffic Separation Scheme wherever they may be in the world.”