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Black fish skippers fined £720,000

SEVENTEEN fishing skippers, including 13 from Shetland, have been fined a total of £720,000 for their part in a massive black fish scam that netted tens of millions of pounds.

The 17 appeared in the High Court in Glasgow on Friday after admitting their involvement in the sophisticated fraud, which was described as having taken place on “an industrial scale”.

Thousands of tonnes of herring and mackerel worth around £63 million were landed illegally over a three year period at Lerwick’s Shetland Catch factory as well as the Fresh Catch factory and the Alexander Buchan factory in Peterhead.

The fish went undetected through an elaborate system of falsified log books, rigged computers and weighing scales and a network of secret pipes.

The fraud came to light after fisheries officers raided the factories in 2005, uncovering the biggest black fish scam to reach court in Scotland’s history.

The 17 men fined today all landed fish at the Shetland Catch factory.

The Shetland skippers are Robert Polson, aged 48; John Irvine, 68; William Williamson, 65; Laurence Irvine, 66; David Hutchison, 66; Thomas Eunson, 56; Allister Irvine, 63; Gary Williamson, 52; George Henry, 60; John Stewart, 57; George Anderson, 56; Colin Leask, 39 and Allen Anderson, 55.

The other skippers are Hamish Slater, 53, and Alexander Masson, 66, both from Fraserburgh; Alexander Wiseman, 60, from Banff and Victor Buchini, 51, from Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.

A further 10 skippers have pled guilty to similar charges and will be sentenced at a later date.

They have already been ordered to hand over almost £3 million under confiscation orders.