The State sought bail of €5.8m yesterday to free one of the world’s largest fishing ships, the Dutch-owned Annelies Ilena, formerly the Killybegs-owned Atlantic Dawn.
The master of the 14,000 tonne vessel, Gerrit Plug, 57, appeared at Donegal District Court accused of breaching EU fishing regulations.
The court heard that the likely evidence, some horse mackerel, sometimes known as scads, was worth only €20 and the State was seeking the factory trawler’s entire catch of €5.8m as a bond.
The State solicitor for Donegal, Ciaran Liddy, held that in law Judge Kevin Kilrane had no discretion to reduce the value of the bond.
But defence solicitor Diarmuid Barry argued that a District Court judge had a discretion to apply a lower bond.
He suggested a bond of €100,000 would be appropriate.
Judge Kilrane fixed bail at €250,000 to be put up when he sits at Carrick-on-Shannon Court today and ordered that the vessel not be released until this morning.
Earlier, he observed that the €5.8m bond seemed disproportionate to this particular case.
A book of evidence was served and the trial hearing was fixed for Donegal Circuit Court on Dec 10.
Judge Kilrane told the master, who faces three charges, that he has 14 days to inform the prosecution if he is calling an alibi witness.
The master is accused of discarding smaller fish in breach of EU regulations and failing to make the correct log-book entry.
The accusation against him alleges he high-graded the catch by discarding smaller fish and retaining larger fish to increase the value of the catch.
Diek Parlevliet, director of Parlevliet and Van der Plas, which owns the super-trawler, addressed the court and told Judge Kilrane the vessel’s detention was costing the company €100,000 a day.
He claimed nobody had seen any fish going into the sea and he had never heard of €5m or €6m being asked for a bond before. He added: “I am not happy with €250,000 but at least it’s down.”
The 144m Annelies Ilena was detained off Tory Island by the Irish Naval Service vessel LÉ Róisín on Friday and escorted to Killybegs port.
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