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Two other captains in the Supreme Court admitted their involvement in the biggest fraud registered fishing in Scotland. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)

Skippers caught concealing EUR 8.3 mln worth of catches

  (UNITED KINGDOM, 10/6/2010)

Two skippers have gone to the High Court over lying about their fish catches and neglecting to declare fish worth GBP 7.2 million (EUR 8.3 million) worth of mackerel and herring from officials at Shetland Catch Ltd on nearly 100 landings at Scotland's chief pelagic trawler. The biggest swindle in the history of the country’s fishing industry was executed by part owners of Enterprise Hamish Slater and Victor Buschini.

This brings the amount of hidden funds due to fish scams to GBP 22 million (EUR 25.4 million).

The largest case of "black landings" or “black fish” scandal – the once prevalent illegal practice in Scottish ports wherein skippers purposefully caught and landed illegal amounts of fish, ignoring conservation measures – is reminiscent of August’s case involving six trawlermen. They admitted to conducting almost 200 voyages between January 2002-March 2005, intentionally violating their yearly fishing quotas and hiding almost GBP 15 million (EUR 17.3 million) from the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA). 

"The consequences of over-fishing on this scale are far-reaching and the impact on fish stocks and the marine environment is potentially devastating," declared Scott Pattison, director of operations at the Crown Office.

Just like in the August case, the Crown will attempt to expropriate these latest culprits of any illegally obtained acquisitions before they are sentenced. Although they cannot be sent to prison for the offense, they could be charged an unlimited fine. 

Proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act and sentences will take several months to be completed.

Slater - who had previously been convicted for violating fish conservation legislation and fined GBP 3,000 (EUR 3,461) in 2002 - and Buschini’s crimes were discovered during a key investigation run by the police and the SFPA, now known as Marine Scotland, focused on Shetland Catch.

The main pelagic fish processing operator in Scotland and a major one in Europe, it is capable of handling as many as 1,000 tonnes of fish daily at its plant at Gremista, Lerwick, reports The Scotsman.

A raid was carried out in 2005 following suspicions of a widespread illegal landing of pelagic fish. 

"This search uncovered a system that enabled the masters of fishing vessels landing fish at Shetland Catch, with the support and assistance of people at the factory, to disguise the true weight of fish and furnish false information on their landing declarations," said advocate-depute Peter Ferguson, QC.

Related articles:

- Six men face up to EUR 18 mln in fines for fraud 
- Six men go to court over fish fraud 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com

 

 

 


Information of the company:
Address: Gremista
City: Lerwick
State/ZIP: Shetland (ZE1 OPX)
Country: United Kingdom
Phone: +44 159 569 5740
Fax: +44 159 569 5761
E-Mail: [email protected]
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