Barra fishermen fined over 'black fish” fraud 23/7/12
Two fishermen from Barra were amongst a group of ten fined at the High Court in Edinburgh
today (Mon) for illegally landing fish.
Father and son, John and Michael Macleod, both previously pleaded guilty to their
role in the black fish scam over a three year period.
Today the Macleods, whose address was given as 32 Eoligarry, Barra, were fined for
breaking strict European quota rules by secretly landing catches of mackerel and
herring at Peterhead between 2002 and 2005.
John Macleod, 57, was fined £50,000. It was previously claimed he benefited by nearly
£1.16 million after making 43 fraudulent landings while skipper of two Castlebay
registered trawlers, the Charisma CY88 and the Prowess CY720.
In January the court hear that, while skipper of the Charisma, Michael Macleod, 34,
illegally landed nearly £908,000 worth of fish over 34 trips. Today he received a
Other fishermen involved in the court proceedings were from the east coast. John
Smith of the Alert was fined £40,000 plus a confiscation order of £150,000. James
Smith received a £10,000 fine plus a £30,000 confiscation order.
Confiscation orders to seize their illicit profits of £361,621 was handed down to
Allan Simpson and of £362,826 to Ernest Simpson.
An £100,000 fine was imposed on Ian Buchan, £35,000 on James Duthie, £12,000 on Oswald
McRonald and Stephen Bellany, £35,000.
At the same court confiscation proceedings and sentence against a fish processing
factory, Fresh Catch Ltd, were continued to 5 September.
The group previously accepted falsifying records and avoided declaring the true amount
of fish landed ashore.
The scam worked by pumping the fish from the boat’s hold through a secret pipe line
in the processing factory. A set of levers and valves diverted the unlawful landings
away from the official weighing machine which logged the legal catches.
The unlawful fish were hidden from inspectors while warnings signs posted around
portacabin control room falsely indicated it housed hazardous high voltage electrical
Lindsey Miller, Head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division, 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.”