THE skipper of a German-registered fishing trawler is due to appear at Cork Circuit Criminal Court this week to face 25 charges of breaches of fishing regulations off the West Cork coast.
Ramon Manuel Nova Martinez (57) of Corosopalmeira, Riberia, La Coruna, Spain appeared at a special sitting of Bandon District Court on Monday after his vessel Ortegal Tres, was detained by Irish authorities.
Mr Martinez was charged with 17 offences for allowing his fishing nets exceed the soak time of 72 hours in respect of static gear, while he was also charged with four offences for failing to accurately record soak times as well as four charges of failing to record the depth of the catch. All these alleged offences took place on dates unknown between December 2022 and February 3rd 2023.
Gda Geraldine O’Sullivan of Castletownbere Garda Station gave evidence of arrest, charge and caution and told Judge James McNulty she arrested the accused at Deenish Harbour on February 13th. Mr Martinez made no reply after all 25 charges were put to him.
The court heard that a book of evidence was served on the accused while acting State solicitor for West Cork Jerry Healy said he was seeking to return the accused for trial to the current sittings of Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Friday February 17th.
He said the State had no objection for the accused to be released on bail but that he was seeking to detain the vessel, Ortegal Tres at Castletownbere. He proposed that a bond of €310,000 be lodged by the owners, which includes the value of the catch, the fishing gear, the potential penalties and legal costs.
Mr Healy said the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA) had valued the catch at €122,330, the fishing gear at €28,87, while a bond of €5,000 was to cover legal costs.
Solicitor Dermot Conway said he wasn’t sure where the SFPA got the figures and that his client said the value of the catch was estimated to be approximately €40,000.
He also said that all the charges against his client emanate from a single event in December 2002 when the winch on the fishing vessel broke and Mr Martinez was unable to haul his nets due to this issue.
Mr Healy asked Judge McNulty to moderate the value of the bond so that his client can afford it, or he would surrender his catch to the SFPA if he couldn’t make the bond amount.
Judge McNulty said he would reduce the bond figure to €100,000 but also directed Mr Martinez to produce a
cash bond of €5,000 in order to be released on bail. He said that Mr Martinez would be allowed to stay on board his vessel until this was paid, while the vessel would be detained until the €100,000 bond was lodged.