September 13, 2008

‘Sea God’ Nabs Poachers

Named after the Greek god of the sea, the Environment Agency's new pounds150,000 patrol boat is already proving its worth.

Based at Teignmouth, Proteus, a rigid inflatable is used by the agency for fisheries enforcement work along the Devon coast including the seizure of illegal nets. And with a top speed of 45 knots, Proteus is one of the fastest patrol boats in the country.

The boat performs a multi-role function and can take on a number of different guises.

When it is not searching the sea for illegal nets, the 12.5m craft can be chartered by other agencies for a variety of maritime enforcement roles.

In the 12 months since it came into service, Proteus has been used by the Marine Coastguard Agency, the Marine and Fisheries Agency and the Sea Fisheries Inspectorate to carry out checks on fishing vessels in the English Channel and Western Approaches.

The Environment Agency confirmed the boat had already caught fishermen poaching sea bass while patrolling and collecting water samples off the coast of South Devon.

Derek Clifton, who skippers the craft, said: "The new vessel has exceeded expectations and already proved its worth. It is an impressive craft.

"The improved performance has been achieved without an increase in fuel consumption. In fact, the twin diesels in Proteus are more economical than petrol engines used in our old patrol vessel that was smaller and slower."

The craft is equipped with an impressive array of electronic wizardry including radar, echo sounder, track plotter and video camera system.

Information displayed on the boat's 'master screen' from navigation and surveillance equipment can be recorded on disc and used in fisheries prosecutions.

Powered by twin 300 hp Mercury diesel engines, the vessel can put to sea day or night. It has a crew of two and can carry up to six people.

In addition to fisheries enforcement work, the craft is used to carry out sea water sampling.

The agency expects to get at least 10 years use out of the new vessel. Its old fishery patrol boat, Nemesis, has been given a new lease of life with a police forensic team who use it to investigate crime and recover evidence from the sea.

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