A 71-year-old man has been fined after being found with 25 under-sized ormers on the foreshore of Lihou Island.
It was the first time John Avery had been ormering. He picked one of the days on which it was legally permitted but neglected to observe the laws on ormer size.
On Wednesday 2 February, Avery ventured out near Lihou Island off the west coast full of good intentions and equipped only with a piece of string.
He thought his luck was in when he managed to collect 40 of the iconic shellfish.
However, an official from the States' sea fisheries division was on patrol and pulled Avery aside to inspect his catch. The official found that 25 of Avery’s ormers were under-sized.
The penalty for this offence can be up to £5,000 or six months in prison.
Pictured: Avery was initially successful when ormering near Lihou Island - until an eagle-eyed official established that most of the septuagenarian's catch was under the legal minimum size.
The States apply strict rules on ormering. They are overseen by the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure and are designed to protect the ormer population around the islands.
Ormers can be harvested only on certain days and diving for them is not permitted.
The Conservation Regulations specify that the minimum size for retaining an ormer is 80mm along the longest axis of its shell. Unfortunately for Avery, most of his haul was under 75mm.
Pictured: On New Year's Eve 1968, the world’s first underwater arrest took place off Castle Cornet in Guernsey when a scuba-diving police officer, David Archer, discovered a man illegally diving for ormers.
Avery represented himself. He read a prepared statement to the Magistrate's Court.
“I wish to make clear my regret… I did not intend to take any undersize ormers,” he said.
Avery told the court that it was the first time he had tried his hand at ormering and he did not take a measuring tool with him.
He said he was as honest as he could be with the official from the sea fisheries division.
“I never attempted to conceal the ormers," he said.
Pictured: The Fishing Ordinance, 1997 states that ormers should be collected only on the days of the full moon or new moon and the two days following. The image shows 2022 dates.
Judge Graeme McKerrell sympathised with Avery but said the strict rules are in place for a reason and must be observed.
“You have stumbled into ormering on a whim… but it’s an important part of Guernsey life,” he said.
The ormers were returned to the sea on the day and Avery was fined £750.
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