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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Inspection and seizure of objects at sea
Section 264: Power to inspect and seize objects at sea

677.This section provides enforcement officers with powers to inspect any object found in the sea which it is believed has been or is being used for or in connection with fishing. This includes powers to lift the object out of the sea for inspection. If the officer believes that the object in question has been used in committing, or is evidence of, an offence then it may be seized. The power to seize an object includes power to seize anything attached to or contained within the object (for example, fish). If the officer does not seize the item the officer must replace it or, if it is not practicable to do so, may seize it for subsequent collection by its owner.

Section 265: Reports of inspections under section 264

678.This section contains reporting requirements that an enforcement officer must follow after inspecting objects under section 264. The report must state the date and time of the inspection, the identity of the officer in charge of the inspection and how the officer may be contacted.

679.Where anything has been seized the report must also state what has been seized, the reason for its seizure, and any further action to be taken in respect of the object.

680.Where the object has not been seized, then, wherever it is reasonably practicable to do so, a copy of the report must be attached to the object. If the report cannot be attached to the object, the section provides that the report should be served on every person who appears to the officer to be the owner, or one of the owners, of the object. If, after taking reasonable steps to identify any person as owning the object, the officer cannot do so, he must take reasonable steps to bring the report to the attention of persons likely to be interested in it.

681.Where an object was seized and the relevant authority has decided not to take proceedings in respect of any offence relating to the object, or such proceedings have concluded, the relevant authority must serve a copy of the report on every person who seems to be the owner, or one of the owners, of the property. If the object was seized under section 264(5) because it was impractical to replace it, the report and notice of collection must be served together. Where a relevant authority cannot identify any person as owning the object it must take reasonable steps to bring the contents to the attention of those likely to be interested in it.

Section 266: Retention of objects seized under section 264(2)

682.This section provides for the retention by the relevant authority of any objects seized under section 264(2). The objects may be retained until such time that a decision has been made not to prosecute or where proceedings are completed without an order for forfeiture being made. In either event, the objects must be made available for collection. The object does not however have to be made available if it is gear or fish liable for forfeiture under section 275 or 276.

Section 267: Disposal of objects seized under section 264

683.This section sets out arrangements for the disposal of objects seized under section 264 where the relevant authority no longer wishes to retain the object or the relevant authority is required to make the object available for collection.

684.The relevant authority must send a “notice of collection” to every person who appears to the authority to be the owner, or one of the owners of, the property. The authority may take any other steps it sees fit to notify such persons that the object is available for collection. Where an owner cannot be identified, it may take the action it sees fit to bring the notice to the attention of persons likely to be interested in it. The notice must state where the object is and that the object must be collected within 3 months or it will be disposed of.

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