Near £200,000 confiscation order imposed on skippers

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At the High Court in Glasgow last week two fishermen who had previously pled guilty to landing undeclared fish at Fresh Catch Ltd in Peterhead between 2003 and 2005 were the subject of confiscation orders totalling £177,000.

John MacLeod (57), skipper of the Prowess and the Charisma was served with a confiscation order of £150,000, while Michael MacLeod (34), skipper of the Prowess had £27,000 confiscated.

Sentence has been deferred on these two vessel masters to May 18 at the High Court in Edinburgh.

At the same court confiscation proceedings against two further vessel skippers, James Duthie (55)) and Ian Buchan (55), were also continued to May 18 at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The offences by these vessel skippers, in contravention of sea fishing legislation, relate to a number of illegal landings of mackerel and herring at Fresh Catch Ltd in Peterhead in respect of which vessel skippers falsely declared the quantity of fish they landed as a means of evading the annual fishing quota allowed to each vessel.

Speaking after the court hearings, Lindsey Miller, Head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division, said: “In committing these offences these two accused put their own financial gain first. Make no mistake these individuals were involved in significant organised criminality.

“These prosecutions are part of an extensive and complex investigation undertaken jointly by Grampian Police and Northern Constabulary under the direction of the Serious and Organised Crime Division of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and with assistance from Marine Scotland.

“The investigation is continuing into other landings and COPFS will continue to work with police and other agencies to maximise the powers under the Proceeds of Crime legislation, to target anyone that would seek to benefit from their crimes.

Detective Superintendent Gordon Gibson of Grampian Police, who led the police investigation, said: “These investigations have been an excellent example of effective partnership working by a number of Law Enforcement bodies across Scotland and beyond.

“It is my hope that a clear message has been sent out to those involved that they will not be allowed to profit from such criminality.”