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Large amounts of mackerel were landed by evading EU quotas. (Photo: Stock File)

Skippers fined EUR 850,000 over 'black fish' fraud

  (UNITED KINGDOM, 2/27/2012)

The High Court in Glasgow has fined 17 Scottish skippers involved in the UK's largest fraud linked to illegal catches a total of GBP 720,000 (EUR 850,330).

All the men admitted to having sold copious quantities of mackerel and herring by evading European Union (EU) quotas.

Six more skippers also admitted to having partaken in the black fish fraud, worth almost GBP 63 million (EUR 74.4 million). They and four others will be sentenced later in the year.

The skippers managed to evade quotas by setting the scales at the processing firm Shetland Catch Ltd to miscalculate the weight of the fish being landed to make it seem lower, BBC News reports.

Two other Scottish fish processing factories took part in the scam; one of them, Alexander Buchan Limited based out of Peterhead, was ordered to pay GBP 240,000 (EUR 283,450) at the High Court in Glasgow.

The 17 fishers illegally landed mackerel and herring at the Shetland Catch factory in Lerwick over a three-year period between January 2002 and March 2005. They brought back with them thousands of tonnes of fish – amounts might higher than they were allowed under EU rules to protect the sustainability of stocks.

The court was told how the skippers falsified logbooks and rigged the digital weighing scales at the factory.

At the Fresh Catch factory in Peterhead, fish was transferred ashore via underground pipes. Fisheries officers and police raided the factories in 2005 after conducting an investigation into the companies' accounts.

Judge Lord Turnbull called the scam "an episode of shame" for the pelagic fishing sector, a "cynical and sophisticated" operation which had the "connivance of a number of different interested parties".

"The legislation is there to protect the marine environment for the good of all and to safeguard the future of the fishing industry,” stated Lindsey Miller, head of the serious and organised crime division for the Crown, STV reports. "These men disregarded it for their own financial gain and, in a clear example of successful working between the law enforcement agencies involved, have now been brought to justice and made to pay for their crimes."

The 17 men have already had to pay back nearly GBP 3 million (EUR 3.5 million) in profits they had made from the scam.

Related article:

-
Skipper partook in scam because discarding fish was 'repugnant'

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


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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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