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Fresh mackerel caught in the North Sea. (Photo: Stock File)

Skipper partook in scam because discarding fish was 'repugnant'

  (UNITED KINGDOM, 1/27/2012)

The master of a fishing boat justified his involvement in a multi-million pound scam by explaining that he could not bear to toss dead fish back into the sea.

Skipper George Anderson told the High Court in Edinburgh this week that he found discarding under-sized herring and mackerel "repugnant."

Anderson is one of 17 skippers who may have to pay heavy fines after having admitted landing catches of mackerel and herring far in excess of European Union (EU) quotas, STV reports.

The fishing bosses illegally landed the fish -- worth more than GBP 40 million (EUR 47.9 million) -- between January 2002 and March 2005 at the Lerwick-based processing plant Shetland Catch Limited.

Judge Lord Turnbull is expected to sentence the fishers next month, BBC reports.

"It doesn't seem that far from other criminal conduct," Turnbull commented. "When it comes to it, is it not just greed?"

Defence advocate Mark Moir pointed out to the court that fishers are supposed to dump fish at sea if they were not up to standard.

"Anderson found this a repugnant activity and didn't do so. As a result of that, what he found himself doing was arriving back at dock with excess fish he had caught”, Moir explicated.

He said Anderson decided to land some of his catch illegally to keep the low value fish from eating into his quota.

"I do not suggest that lessens the seriousness of what Anderson has done or in any way say that exculpates him", his lawyer said.

He was careful to depict Anderson as a respected member of the fishing community who is deeply regretful of becoming involved in the scam.

Notably, even after being exposed as having taken part in the illegal landings, Marine Scotland asked Anderson to skipper their ship in the North Sea to check fish stocks.

He has already been ordered to surrender GBP 40,700 (EUR 48,785) to rid him of the profits resulting from his part in the scam; his earnings last year neared GBP 100,000 (EUR 119,865).

At Shetland Catch, officials of the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency monitored catch sizes on computer screens which had been altered to show lower weights, the court was told.

Instead, the true weight of the landings of mackerel and herring appeared in an engineer's room where the officials did not go. A search of Shetland Catch's records revealed incongruities in their figures.

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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