The Villa de Pitanxo, fined twice for irregularities in halibut fishing

The Villa de Pitanxo, the Galician trawler that was shipwrecked in the waters of Newfoundland (Canada) on February 15, was sanctioned twice by the Spanish authorities for breaking the law in the Greenland halibut fishery. The sanctions, which were appealed by the shipowner, are recorded in two sentences that the National Court confirmed in 2017 and 2020.

The most recent resolution, to which Efe has had access, dates from July 2020 and refers to the serious infractions detected four years earlier, in 2016, to the Maritime Fishing Law. In it, the Contentious Chamber of the National Court confirms the sentence of a Madrid court and the resolutions of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environment that imposed six sanctions on the ship’s skipper for a total of 162,000 euros.

According to the sentence, the inspectors verified the existence of a hidden warehouse on the ship, where they found 26,788 kilos of bagged and unlabelled Greenland halibut, a fish that was seized by the authorities. The sanctions, which also affect the shipowner, include a fine of 60,000 euros for an infraction of elimination, alteration, concealment or concealment of evidence that could be obtained in the course of control and inspection tasks or procedures.

In addition, those responsible for the Villa de Pitanxo were forced to pay another 40,000 euros for not sending the positions in which the ship was moving and another 40,000 euros for not recording the catches of halibut that were hidden in the logbook.

The other three fines are: one of 10,000 euros, for not communicating the arrival at the port or the catches they were carrying; €6,000, for not identifying the boxes with the fish; and others €6,000 for not having on board the fishing authorizations and the plans of the hold. Added to the 2020 ruling is a previous court ruling, from October 2017, regarding other irregularities detected in another inspection carried out in 2013.

At that time, the inspectors detected a “intentionally altering” the classification of catches of two rows of boxes of Greenland halibut to pass them off as catches of skates, thus exceeding the quantity declared in the logbook. The report also reflected an infraction of obstruction to the inspection work, for the concealment of halibut boxes and for the extraction for sale without authorization before the official investigation was concluded. In this case, the penalties imposed on the owner of Villa de Pitanxo also exceeded 100,000 euros.

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