A mother and son from Pembrokeshire have been ordered to pay nearly £6,000 for obstructing the work of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

On March 3, 2022, 20 year old Rhys Wonnacott, prevented MCA surveyors boarding the fishing vessel Provider, moored at Milford Haven.

Because of this, surveyors were unable to complete an inspection of the vessel, as part of a Fishing Vessel Concentrated Inspection Campaign that was taking place that day.

Obstructing an MCA surveyor from their duties is against the law, under Section 258 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

Following the incident in 2022, Louise Wonnacott, 42, Rhys’ mother, also of Richard John Road in Milford Haven, repeatedly failed to provide the MCA with required documentation as part of an ongoing investigation, after claiming she and Rhys Wonnacott were not responsible for the fishing vessel provider.

She did not respond to the MCA for around seven months – between March and October 2023.

Not supplying the required documents is an offence under Section 260 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

On May 2, Rhys and Louise Wonnacott, of Richard John Road, Milford Haven, and his mother appeared at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court.

Rhys Wonnacott was fined £800 and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £320 and costs of £1,000.

At the same court hearing, his mother Louise Wonnacott was fined £2,000 and was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £800 and costs of £1,000.

“The role of the MCA is extremely important and vital to the protection of fishers at sea, and requires the cooperation of all parties,” the court heard.

The court also heard that Rhys Wonnacott was remorseful and wanted an apology to go to the MCA, particularly the surveyors involved in the incident.

Following the sentencings, Maritime Investigator Lesley Hopker said: “The MCA and its surveyors encourage and assist operators to maintain high quality vessels, and inspect ships where concerns have been identified, to ensure safety standards are upheld within the maritime industry.

“Obstructing MCA staff prevents them from delivering its commitment for safer lives, safer ship and cleaner seas.

“The result today reflects the importance of the MCA’s work, and the importance of working with the MCA to ensure you and your vessel are as safe and prepared as can be.”