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Illegal fishing was verified by a vessel monitoring system

The professional fisherman who had used dozens of unmarked nets on Lake Peipsi and tried to hide what they had done was identified thanks to the Lake Peipsi fishing vessel tracking system. Data from the tracking system were used to verify the fisherman’s movement and connection with the illegal nets.

In April last year, the inspectors of the Jõgevamaa Office of the Environmental Inspectorate discovered six unmarked lines of nets in the northern part of Lake Peipsi with a total of 33 nets. The illegal nets were removed from the lake and it was discovered that only one line, or six nets, had the correct mesh sizes, while all other nets had smaller mesh sizes. Of the 41 fish in the nets, 38 were alive and were released back to the water.

Although the professional fisherman did not properly mark the lines of nets and used a boat without the mandatory GPS device for the fishing, the Environmental Inspectorate, in cooperation with the Mustvee and Vasknarva cordons of the Police and Border Guard Board, was able to identify the offender on the basis of the data of the Lake Peipsi fishing vessel GPS tracking system.

The fisherman was fined €1,200 for illegal fishing and the six lines of open water nets were seized.

The fisherman appealed against the decision of the Environmental Inspectorate to the Tartu County Court, asking the court to cancel the sentence imposed on him. According to the fisherman, he had accidentally ended up in the places where inspectors discovered the illegal nets. Nor did he consider the GPS tracking data of fishing vessels reliable enough.

According to the decision of the Tartu County Court in Jõgeva Courthouse on 22 February this year, the fisherman’s complaint was dismissed and the decision of the Environmental Inspectorate was not amended. The court disagreed with the fisherman’s views and ruled that illegal fishing was proven. It was also noted that the fisherman Sergei had previously violated the requirements for commercial fishing by using a so-called pleasure boat for fishing. Thus, according to the court, there was no basis for amending the decision made by the Environmental Inspectorate for the fisherman and reducing the fine imposed.

By now, the Tartu County Court judgment and the misdemeanour judgment of the Environmental Inspectorate have entered into force.

In order to prevent illegal fishing on Lake Peipsi, Lake Lämmijärv, and Lake Pskov, it is mandatory since 2015 to use fishing vessels equipped with GPS equipment for commercial fishing so it would be possible to monitor and control fishing activities. For the same purpose, fishermen must report their catch data.

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