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Black fish skippers

TWO fishing skippers who landed illegal catches in Peterhead between 2002 and 2005 have been ordered to pay back £177,000.

John MacLeod, 57, and Michael MacLeod, 33, pled guilty to their part in an £8 million black fish scam along with two other skippers earlier this year.

Both men were masters of the Peterhead pelagic trawler Charisma, with John also the helmsman of the Prowess.

Earlier this year John MacLeod admitted making 43 illegal landings worth £1,159,761.70, while Michael MacLeod made landings worth £907,840.50. The landings were made at the Peterhead Fresh Catch factory.

Judge Lord Turnbull ordered John MacLeod to pay £150,000, while his co-accused had to stump up £27,000.

John MacLeod and Michael MacLeod were involved in making false declarations in connection with landings of mackerel and herring.

Sentence has been deferred on the pair until 18 May when they will appear at the High Court in Edinburgh, when the two other skippers James Duthie and Ian Buchan are also expected to appear.

Lindsey Miller, head of the Serious and Organised Crime Division at the Crown Office, 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.

“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.”

The convictions were made as part of a major investigation into illegal landings by Scottish and Shetland fishermen in Lerwick and Peterhead.

Last month 17 skippers, including 13 from Shetland, were fined a total of £720,000 for illegally landing thousands of tonnes of herring and mackerel worth around £63 million.