Shetland fish plant ordered to pay £1,650,000

17 July 2012

A Shetland fish plant who deliberately evaded annual fishing quotas has been ordered to pay £1,650,000 under the Proceeds of Crime (Scotland) Act 1995. The plant operators, Shetland Catch Ltd, based in Lerwick had pled guilty to assisting vessel skippers in making undeclared landings. The offences committed between January 2002 and March 2005 were in contravention of Article 3(2) of the Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Control Measures) (Scotland) Order 2000.

They relate to a number of illegal landings of herring and mackerel at Lerwick, in respect of which Shetland Catch assisted vessel skippers who falsely declared the quantity of fish they landed as a means of evading the annual fishing quota allowed to each vessel. Article 8.1 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2847/93 requires the master of a vessel to submit a declaration of the quantity of each species of fish landed within 48 hours of landing. The enforcing authorities rely on the making of such declarations to monitor each vessel’s landings against its quota.  Article 3(2) makes it an offence, in relation to the making of such a declaration, to knowingly or recklessly provide information which is false in a material particular. Every landing by the vessel skippers involved a false declaration at Shetland Catch Ltd of the quantity of fish landed.

In his opinion, Lord Turnbull said:

"The company had, along with others, been engaged in criminal conduct over a lengthy period. The motivating factor from the point of view of the vessel Masters was financial gain."

Lesley Thomson QC, the Solicitor General, said:

"Shetland Catch Ltd sought to make huge financial gain with total disregard for the law. They knowingly assisted vessel skippers to under declare their fish landings and were involved in a web of deceit with their sole motivation being greed.”

The amount payable by Shetland Catch Ltd is made up of a £150,000 fine and a £1.5m confiscation order, which the company have three years to pay.



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