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Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009

Seizure for purposes of forfeiture
Section 268: Power to seize fish for purposes of forfeiture

685.This section provides a power for an enforcement officer to seize fish for the purpose of forfeiture. The enforcement officer may only do this where a court has the power, following conviction, to order forfeiture. The power enables the seizure of fish from a vessel, from the sea or from the shore, including fish seized under section 252.

686.The section gives enforcement officers practical powers, such as allowing them to take the container the fish are in or to require the fish to be put in a container. It includes a power to require anybody (for example, crew, skipper etc) to keep the fish secure and not to tamper with them whilst the investigation is ongoing and until the fish are seized and removed. It also includes the power to request assistance from anybody in or on the premises whilst the enforcement officer is carrying out his duties, and the power to require a person carrying on an activity in respect of which the officer has functions to afford facilities and assistance.

Section 269: Power to seize fishing gear for purposes of forfeiture

687.The same principles which apply in relation to section 268 (regarding the seizure of fish for the purpose of forfeiture) apply here to the seizure of fishing gear.

Section 270: Procedure in relation to seizure under section 268 or 269

688.This section creates an obligation on the enforcement officer who seizes any fish or fishing gear under section 268 or 269 to serve a written notice on every person who appears to the officer to be the owner or one of the owners at the time the fish or gear were seized, and sets out other persons on whom the notice must be served (depending on the location from which the property was seized).

689.The written notice must state what has been seized, the reason for its seizure, the nature of the alleged offence committed and any proposed action to be taken. The notice must also indicate that, unless the property is liable for forfeiture under section 275 or 276, it will be kept until such time as it may be released or the court has ordered its forfeiture.

690.Subsections (3) to (5) set out the procedure where the fish or fishing gear has been seized following inspection carried out in accordance with section 264. It states that the officer must serve the notice referred to in section 265 at the same time as the notice which is to be served under this section and makes provision for the situation where the owner cannot be ascertained.

Section 271: Retention of property seized under section 268 or 269

691.This section provides the relevant authority with the power to retain any fish or fishing gear seized under section 268 or 269. However the property must be made available for collection as soon as is reasonably practicable where either the relevant authority decides not to bring court proceedings or any proceedings brought are concluded without an order for forfeiture being made.

Section 272: Bonds for release of seized fish or gear

692.This section allows the owner of any property (or the owner or charterer of the vessel if the property was seized from there) seized under section 268 or 269 and being retained under section 271 to lodge a bond with the relevant authority in return for its release. The relevant authority may set conditions for the release and may enter into an agreement with the owner as to the amount of money to be given as the security. Where an agreement is not reached, the court may determine the amount to be paid as security.

693.If the relevant authority has decided not to take proceedings or proceedings have concluded with no order for forfeiture having been made, the relevant authority must return the bond as soon as possible. Where a court has the power to order the forfeiture of fish or fishing gear seized under section 268 or 269, that power applies equally to any bond given under this section.

Section 273: Power of relevant authority to sell seized fish in its possession

694.This section gives the relevant authority the power to sell any fish it has retained under section 271. The power of the court to order the forfeiture of the fish may be exercised in relation to the proceeds of the sale of the fish.

695.The relevant authority may retain the proceeds of sale until the court orders the money to be forfeit, the relevant authority has decided not to take proceedings or proceedings have concluded with no order for forfeiture having been made. If the relevant authority decides not to take proceedings or proceedings have concluded with no order for forfeiture having been made then the relevant authority must release the proceeds of the sale as soon as possible. Subsections (5) and (6) provide for the persons to whom the proceeds of sale are to be released and the procedure if that money remains unclaimed.

696.Provision is also made as to how the fish are to be sold, including a right for the relevant person to make representations as to how the fish are to be sold. This section also permits the relevant authority to deduct its reasonable expenses from the proceeds of sale.

Section 274: Disposal of property seized under section 268 or 269

697.Where the relevant authority no longer wishes to retain fish or fishing gear seized under section 268 or 269, or where it is required to make such property available for collection under section 271, section 274 requires a notice of collection to be served on every person who appears to be the owner, or owners, of the property. The notice must state the location from which the property may be collected and that if not collected within 3 months it will be disposed of. The specified location for collection will usually be a port office. It further makes provision where the relevant authority is unable to identify an owner.

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