Pelagic fishing vessels at Fresh Catch, in Peterhead. (Photo: Fresh Catch)
Fisheries scandal culprits fined millions
Monday, May 21, 2012, 06:00 (GMT + 9)
A Scottish trawler skipper received a GBP 1 million (EUR 1.2 million) confiscation order from the courts after pleading guilty to partaking in one of Europe's largest illegal fisheries scandals. The order is one of the largest ever made against an individual by the Scottish courts.
Ian Buchan admitted to illegally landing and then selling nearly GBP 4.5 million (EUR 5.6 million) worth of mackerel in a "black landing" scam to dodge European fishing quotas, The Guardian reports.
The offences took place at Fresh Catch Ltd and Alexander Buchan Ltd between 2002 and 2005.
"The extent to which landings of fish were deliberately under-declared was at times truly staggering and in the case of some of the accused concerned, took place continuously over a three-year period. The result is an episode of shame for much of the whole pelagic fishing industry," Judge Lord Turnbull said, The Independent reports.
Buchan was one of four skippers that received confiscation orders for participating in landing over-quota fish at two processing factories in Peterhead. Both plants were also convicted and fined for handling tens of millions of pounds worth of illegally harvested mackerel and herring.
Twenty-seven skippers and three processing factories, including Shetland Catch outside Lerwick, Shetland, pleaded guilty by March this year to illegally landing GBP 63 million (EUR 78.6 million) worth of fish over a three-year period. The largest single confiscation order by March was GBP 425,900 (EUR 531,405).
Buchan, master of the Quantas trawler, landed at Fresh Catch in Peterhead and used an underground pipe and switching valves, operated from an anonymous and clandestine hut known as the Wendy House, which was marked with fake signs on its doors reading, "Danger: high voltage."
The confiscation orders issued on Friday against the other three skippers amounted to GBP 187,281 (EUR 233,675).
"Serious and organised crime can take many forms and these individuals were involved in significant organised criminality,” said Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC. "They put their own financial gain first and sought to obtain staggering amounts of money with blatant disregard for the impact such large-scale overfishing would have.”
"Our message is very clear that there is no place in Scotland for those who want a lifestyle funded by crime," he added.
The men will be sentenced on 16 July.
- Shetland Catch resists confiscation over fish scam
- Skippers fined EUR 850,000 over 'black fish' fraud
By Natalia Real