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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
'Black fish' duo to pay back 1m
John Duncan (left) and Jerry Ramsay
Duncan (left) and Ramsay must pay back 495,000 each
Two of the owners of the UK's largest fishing vessel have been ordered to pay back almost 1m after pleading guilty to illegally landing fish.

Shetland skipper John Duncan and mate Jerry Ramsay landed more than 7,000 tonnes of illegally caught "black fish" in Denmark.

They then hid the true quantity by altering their log books.

Each was ordered to pay 495,000 at the High Court in Edinburgh. Sentence was deferred until 14 November.

At an earlier hearing, Duncan, 57, and 51-year-old Ramsay, of the Shetland-based trawler Altaire, had admitted flouting European Union fishing regulations by exceeding their North Sea herring and mackerel quota.

They landed illegally-caught fish in Denmark and hid their actions from Fishery Protection Agency officials by faking log sheets.

The men caught 17,085 tonnes of mackerel between 2000 and 2002 but claimed the total was only 10,031. They also caught 1,012 tonnes of herring but only 469 tonnes was declared.

The black fish operation was thought to have earned them about 3.4m over two years and was believed to have been the most lucrative ever recorded in Scotland.

Illegal proceeds

A high court judge heard that after taxes and costs were deducted the benefit to the pair was 990,000.

Alongside that bill, the men, from Ollaberry in Shetland, also face the possibility of fines on their return to court.

Under the law, the men could not be sentenced until the question of confiscating the illegal proceeds had been settled.

Prosecuting advocate depute, Barry Divers, told judge Lord Kingarth that agreement had been reached.

The court was told that 3.4m was the amount received by the fishing company in which Duncan and Ramsay each held 14.29% stakes.

Mr Divers said 1.6m of the 3.4m had been used up in operating costs and a further 776,000 had been paid in taxes.

The men are part-owners of a new vessel called Altaire III which has cost more than 10m to build.

Fishermen net 3.4m in catch scam
26 Apr 05 |  Scotland

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