TWO fishermen who admitted landing catches without telling the authorities have been ordered to hand over a total of £177,000.
The confiscation orders were made after the men broke strict rules on declaring the quantity and species of fish landed within 48 hours.
At the High Court in Glasgow today, John MacLeod, 57, Master of the Prowess and the Charisma, was given a confiscation order for £150,000;
Michael MacLeod, 33, Master of the Prowess, was ordered to hand over £27,000.
The two had previously pled guilty to landing undeclared fish at Fresh Catch Ltd, Peterhead, between 2003 and 2005.
Sentence has been deferred on these two vessel masters to 18 May at the High Court in Edinburgh
The Crown Office said the vessel skippers had 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 today, 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. I look forward to the sizeable sum which has been confiscated under the proceeds of crime being distributed to many worthwhile causes across our communities in Scotland.”
Cephas Ralph, Head of Compliance at Marine Scotland said: “Today’s successful court activity was the result of a long and complex joint operation into historic large-scale illegality at a small number of processing plants.
“While this action has helped to significantly improve matters our officers remain continuously vigilant in monitoring the significant quantities of valuable fish handled by Scottish processing plants.”