Maximum fine for carp smuggler

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Magistrates at Folkestone have issued the maximum fine to a man who illegally imported more than three-quarters of a tonne of live carp.

Graeme James Beith, a 63-year-old retired man from West Kingdown, Sevenoaks, attempted to import 64 large carp from France without the health certification required by the fish health regulations.

The carp, which each weighed between 25 and 43 lbs, were destined for the angling industry and were imported from France via Dover last November.

Beith did not attend his court hearing and was fined the maximum amount of 5000 and ordered to pay additional costs totalling 6690 - making a total charge of 11,690.

When stopped at Dover, Beith denied buying anything in France, but when his van was searched, 64 carp were found. Customs officers handed the matter over to inspectors from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) and the State Veterinary Service.

Beith later told an investigator from CEFAS that he had collected the fish from an English man in Vitrey, France.

Beith claimed that the man had a pub in Farningham, Kent, and that the man had paid him 800 to collect the fish from France.

CEFAS investigator Stephen Maidment said: "The circumstances of this case are almost identical to one in August last year, which leads us to believe the same person or persons are behind these offences. We would ask anyone with information on this or any other case involving fish smuggling to contact Cefas in strict confidence."

To prevent the threat of disease, the fish were humanely slaughtered.