Fish smuggler loses appeal

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A fish smuggler has lost his appeal against a fine of 3500 imposed by magistrates for illegally importing carp.

Anthony John Dovaston attempted to illegally import nearly a tonne of carp from France without the proper fish health certification, as was fined 3500 by magistrates in Folkstone, Kent.

Dovaston believed that the sentence was too severe.

Judge McDonald, who heard the case at Ashford Crown Court this week, told the appellant that it would be difficult to imagine a worse case of fish smuggling.

He said that Dovaston's attempt to smuggle the valuable carp had been a well-prepared and cynically executed act, involving "horrible cruelty" to the fish, many of which were close to death when they were intercepted by HM Customs officials.

The haul was spotted after Customs officers pulled over a van sitting low on its axles due to a heavy load.

When they searched the van, they found large numbers of carp on board, averaging 6kg/13 lbs in weight. The gas cylinders keeping the fish supplied with oxygen had stopped working and the fish were in poor condition.

Fish Health Inspectors from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science humanely slaughtered all of the cargo to prevent further suffering to the fish, and to prevent the risk of them passing diseases on to native stocks.

CEFAS Fish Health Inspector Alasdair Scott said: "We would prefer it if people simply stopped smuggling, but if they persist in this activity we will do all we can to stop them to protect our indigenous fish against the very real threat of disease posed by this activity."