Scots to pay £1.2m for black fish scam
The skippers of Christina S and other vessels have been fined for their roles in a black fish scam
A total of 10 Scottish fishing skippers have been ordered to pay almost £1.2 million after admitting their involvement in a so-called black fish operation, reports John Kinsman.
The 10 skippers previously pled guilty to the illegal landing of undeclared catches at two processors, Fresh Catch and Alexander Buchan.
At the High Court in Edinburgh on 23 July they were given fines and confiscation orders totalling £1,194,447 for the offences committed between 2002 and 2005.
Following the court hearing, prosecutors said the skippers had used devious methods to try and evade fishing quota restrictions in the scam, said to be worth about £23m, with no respect for the consequences.
Those dealt with in the High Court were:
- Skipper John Smith of the trawler Alert - confiscation order of £150,00 and fine of £40,000
- Skipper James Smith of the trawler Alert - confiscation order of £30,000 and fine of £10,000
- Skipper Alan Simpson of the trawler Christina S - confiscation order of £361,621
- Skipper Ernest Simpson of the trawler Christina S - confiscation order of £326,826
- Skipper Ian Buchan of the trawler Quantus - fine of £100,000
- Skipper James Duthie of the trawler Sunbeam – fine of £35,000
- Skipper Oswald McRonald of the trawler Quantus - fine of £12,000
- Skipper John Macleod of the trawlers Prowess and Charisman - fine of £50,000
- Skipper Michael MacLeod of the trawler Prowess - fine of £8,000
- Skipper Stephen Bellany of the trawler Unity – fine of £35,000
The Judge Lord Turnbull said he took into account that in each case, no attempt was made to disguise the actual income acquired and tax was paid.
He also noted that the skippers regretted their involvement and the embarrassment brought to them and their families.
Lindsey Miller, head of the Crown Office serious and organised crime division said: "These individuals used incredibly complex and devious methods to under declare their fish landings. They had no regard for the law or for the consequences such large scale overfishing would have on fish stocks, the environment or the hard working fishermen trying to make an honest living in the industry".
Allan and Ernest Simpson will be sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh in September, while proceedings against Fresh Catch will also been continued until then.
Six of the skippers who were fined have already been handed confiscation orders of more than £1.3m between them.
Earlier this month Shetland Catch was hit with a £1.5m confiscation order and fined £150,000 after the Lerwick company admitted assisting trawler skippers in making undeclared landings.
The convictions were a result of a seven year investigation, Operation Trawler, launched to investigate suspicions about the widespread illegal landing of fish within the pelagic fleets.
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