'Greedy and shameful' fishermen condemned for £47.5 million black fish scam
February 24 2012 Lewis Smith
Seventeen captains of fishing boats involved in a £47.5million ‘black fish’ scam have been fined £720,000 and told they brought shame on the industry.
The skippers had landed mackerel and herring in Lerwick and made false declarations about the quantities so that they could avoid reaching their quota levels and carry on fishing.
The Judge, Lord Turnbull, at the High Court in Glasgow, described their actions as motivated by greed and said the scam had been “cynical and sophisticated”.
“In contrast to some within the fishing industry, those engaged in fishing with the pelagic fleet appear to have been able to make very substantial sums over many years, providing very comfortable livings for themselves and their families," he said.
“The motivation was purely financial. Those who were already making a good living saw this as a way more income could be generated and were prepared to participate in deliberate lies and falsehoods.
"A fish processing factory, Alexander Buchan Ltd, was fined £240,000 for helping the skippers make false declarations.Richard Lochhead, the Scottish fisheries secretary, insisted there have been significant improvements in attitudes and procedures that should prevent a repeat of such “appalling behaviour”.
Mr Lochhead said: “There is no doubt that these illegal activities are a stark and shameful reminder of the culture that existed in some sectors of the fishing industry in past years but they do not reflect the much improved culture we see today.
“The offences date back up to a decade ago and, thankfully, there has been seismic change in the attitude and behaviour of the fishing fleet, which can only be good thing in securing a viable future for the industry in Scotland.
”Lindsey Miller, Head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division, said after the hearing: “Organised crime takes many forms. These individuals may not have been involved in drug dealing or prostitution but let us make no mistake that they were involved in significant and serious organised criminality.
“The legislation is there to protect the marine environment for the good of all and to safeguard the future of the fishing industry. These men disregarded it for their own financial gain.
”Detective Superintendent Gordon Gibson of Grampian Police, led the police investigation, and said:
"The scale of crime committed by these individuals was at a level rarely seen before.
"It was apparent during our investigations that these individuals totally disregarded any legislation to prevent this occurring and as can be seen from the landings made, they amassed huge sums of money through their own greed.”
The seventeen skippers had admitted the illegal landings and at a hearing in December they were ordered to pay back almost £3 million in confiscation orders.
The 17 vessel skippers, the amounts of the confiscation orders, and the fines are:
• Hamish Slater, 53, Master of Enterprise, confiscation order £425,900, fined £80,000
• Robert Polson, 48, Master of Serene, confiscation order £371,300, fined £70,000
• Victor Buschini, 51, Master of Enterprise, confiscation order £341,000, fined £70,000
• Alexander Masson, 66, Master of Kings Cross, confiscation order £283,000, fined £50,000
• John Irvine, 68, Master of Zephyr, confiscation order £236,000, fined £80,000
• William Andrew Williamson, 65, Master of Research W, confiscation0Order £213,000, fined £45,000
• Laurence Anderson Irvine, 66, Master of Antares, confiscation order £210,700, fined £80,000
• Alexander Wiseman, 60, Master of Kings Cross, confiscation order £196,000, fined £50,000
• David Hutchison, 66, Master of Charisma, confiscation order £140,900, fined £40,000
• Thomas Eunson, 56, Master of the Serene, confiscation order, £140,500, fined £40,000
• Allister Irvine, 63, Master of the Zephyr, confiscation order, £120,600, fined £35,000
• Gary Williamson, 52, Master of the Research W, confiscation order £118,500, fined £35,000
• George Andrew Henry, 60, Master of the Adenia, confiscation order £51,300, fined £12,000
• John William Stewart, 57, Master of the Antarctic, confiscation order £41,300, fined £15,000
• George Anderson, 56, Master of the Adenia, confiscation order £40,700, fined £12,000
• Colin Andrew Leask, 39, Master of the Antarctic II, confiscation order £12,000, fined £3,000
• Allen Anderson, 55, Master of the Serene, confiscation order £2,700, fined £3,000
Alexander Buchan Limited, had a £165,000 confiscation order on December 16 and has now been fined £240,000.
« Return to the news index
Be the first to comment on this story using the form below