Fishermen fined for illegal operations

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Two Barra fishermen were fined at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday (Monday) for their part in a massive illegal fishing operation at Peterhead between 2002 and 2005.

John Macleod (57) Master of the Prowess and the Charisma was fined £50,000 and Michael Macleod (33) was fined £8,000 along with eight other fishermen.

Altogether the fines and confiscation orders for the ten men totalled £1,194,447.

At the same court confiscation proceedings and sentence against a fish processing factory, Fresh Catch Ltd, have been continued to 5 September at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Speaking after the court hearing, Lindsey Miller, Head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division, and POCA Champion said:

“These individuals used incredibly complex and devious methods to under declare their fish landings.

“They had no regard for the law or for the consequences such large scale overfishing would have on fish stocks, the environment or the hard working fishermen trying to make an honest living in the industry.

“There is no place in Scotland for those who want a lifestyle funded by crime and we will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies to use Proceeds of Crime laws to make Scotland an increasingly hostile place for these criminals.”

Detective Superintendent Gordon Gibson of Grampian Police, who led the police investigation, said:

“This is another example of individuals amassing huge sums of money by their serious and organised criminal acts.  Make no mistake these men made a conscious decision to commit these crimes and to continue to do so over a protracted period.

“The actions of these men and the others who have been brought before the court as a  result of the Operation Trawler investigation have tarnished not only themselves, but I am afraid also those other honest hard working fishermen who choose to make a living by perfectly legal means.

Cephas Ralph, Head of Compliance at Marine Scotland said:

“The activity in court today (Monday) sees the end of another chapter of historic enforcement activity which brought about dramatic improvements in compliance and sustainability in the Scottish pelagic industry. 

“This kind of enforcement action is only taken when the necessary measures we have in place are ignored.  So while I regret that these prosecutions were necessary they have been essential to protect the reputations and livelihoods of the vast majority of Scottish fishermen who are law abiding. 

“These punishments send an unequivocal message to anyone who thinks that they can ignore fisheries regulations.”

John Smith Master of the Alert – Confiscation order £150,000. Fine £40,000

James Smith Master of the Alert – Confiscation order £30,000. Fine £10,000

Allan Simpson Master of the Christina S – Confiscation order £361,621

Ernest Simpson Master of the Christina S - Confiscation order £362,826

Ian Buchan, DOB Master of the Quantus – Fine £100,000

James Duthie, Master of the Sunbeam – Fine £35,000

Oswald McRonald, Master of the Quantus – Fine £12,000

John MacLeod, Master of the Prowess and the Charisma – Fine £50,000

Michael MacLeod, Master of the Prowess – Fine £8,000.

Stephen Bellany, Master of the Unity – Fine £35,000.