Norfolk shellfish boss fined more than £15,000 for unsafe boat

PUBLISHED: 16:34 25 July 2018

King's Lynn magistrates court. Picture: Chris Bishop

King's Lynn magistrates court. Picture: Chris Bishop


The owner of a small fishing vessel has been fined more than £15,000 for operating an unsafe boat.

John Lake, 77, of Cross Bank Road, King’s Lynn, appeared at King’s Lynn Magistrates Court on Wednesday, July 25, where he pleaded guilty to failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure a ship is operated in a safe manner and failing to comply with the small fishing vessel code of practice.

Lake, who is the director of John Lake Shellfish Ltd and owner of the 13-metre fishing vessel Audrey Patricia, was fined £4,500 for each offence and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170 and £6,458 towards court costs.

The boat had been subject to a pre-arranged inspection by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) at Boston, Lincolnshire, and was found to have a catalogue of deficiencies related to emergency procedures and lifesaving equipment, which resulted in the vessel being detained.

The deficiencies included emergency drills not being carried out by the crew, liferaft being nearly four years beyond its service date, missing and out of date emergency flares, fire extinguishers out of date, insufficient serviceable lifejackets and emergency fuel shut off not working.

The MCA said the vessel had been neglected by its owner and was not in a safe condition to go to sea. The vessel was being used as part of Lake’s shellfish business.

In sentencing the magistrates commented that these were serious matters considering what might have happened.

MCA surveyor Matt Turner, who had inspected the vessel, said: “The condition of this vessel, as an operating fishing vessel, was wholly unacceptable.

“The owner had failed in his responsibility of ensuring the vessel was in a safe condition to put to sea and comply with the small fishing vessel codes of practice.

“This failure had put the vessel and its crew at unnecessary risk, the consequences of which could have left Mr Lake facing more serious charges.

“The MCA is determined, with our stakeholders, to improve the safety of fishermen.

“Owners who fail in their responsibilities in this way will be prosecuted.”

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