An English fishing company has pleaded guilty to catching undersized whelks in Manx waters.

B & M Fishing Llp, whose address is Siding Road, Fleetwood, Lancashire, did not have a representative in court, but authorised advocate Jim Travers to enter a guilty plea on their behalf.

The case was adjourned until June 13 in order for the company to provide financial information which will be taken into account before any fine is imposed.

Prosecuting advocate Barry Swain told the court that, on November 22 at 3.30pm, fisheries officers were on patrol off the west coast of the island when they saw the fishing boat Julia Ann (FD5).

They boarded the vessel to inspect their catch and found that a number of whelks were under the permitted size limit of 75 millimetres.

The vessel was taken to Douglas for a full inspection to take place.

Once there, 43 sacks of whelks were inspected.

Of 21,513 whelks caught, 4,188 of them were found to be under the minimum limit of 75mm.

We previously reported that the master of the vessel, Dinars Lugan, from Lincoln, was fined £35,000 in relation to this incident in November.

During an interview, the owner of the boat said that the crew had been rushing the riddling process, which separates out the whelks which are undersized.

Officers from the Department of the Environment, Food and Agriculture were also in court on Tuesday.

Defence advocate Jim Travers said that the master of the vessel would normally carry out two checks himself but on the day in question had only carried out one check.

Mr Travers said that the crew would not have made any more money from the whelks as they were on set salaries.

The advocate said that the company had since paid Lugan’s £35,000 fine for him, as he said if they placed the onus on vessel skippers to pay such fines, they would never get any staff.

Mr Travers said that it was difficult for the company to do anything more than provide their skipper and crew with the proper equipment and get them to sign up to a commitment not to retain undersized whelks.

The advocate said that B & M Fishing Llp had been described as a professional outfit by the DEFA and that it took its responsibilities seriously.

High Bailiff Mrs Hughes said that she would need financial information, such as accounts for the last three years, for the company before deciding on the level of the penalty.