Black fish skippers hit with hefty penalties

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FISHERMEN who landed black fish at two Peterhead factories have been hit with fines and confiscation orders totalling nearly £1.2 million.

The ten skippers had previously admitted being involved in landing undeclared fish worth tens of millions of pounds at Fresh Catch Ltd and Alexander Buchan Ltd between 2002 and 2005.

These offences related to illegal landings of herring and mackerel in respect of which processing firm Shetland Catch assisted vessel skippers who falsely declared the quantity of fish they landed to evade the annual fishing quota allowed to each vessel.

At the High Court in Edinburgh Ian Buchan (55), was fined £100,000, James Duthie (55), fined £35,000, Oswald McRonald (64) fined £12,000 and John MacLeod (57) fined £50,000, Michael MacLeod (33) fined £8,000 and Stephen Bellany (49) fined £35,000. There was also a £40,000 fine and a £150,000 confiscation order for John Smith (37), while 54-years-old James Smithwas fined £10,000 and handed a £30,000 confiscation order.

Allan Simpson (43), and Ernest Simpson (65), were handed £361,621 and £362,826 confiscation orders respectively and will be sentenced in September.

Lindsey Miller, head of the 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.

“There is no place in Scotland for those who want a lifestyle funded by crime and we will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies to use proceeds of crime laws to make Scotland an increasingly hostile place for these criminals.”

Confiscation proceedings and sentence against fish processing factory Fresh Catch Ltd will take place in September at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Ian Buchan, James Duthie, Oswald McRonald, John MacLeod, Michael MacLeod and Stephen Bellany have already been handed confiscation orders of more than £1.3 million between them.