Seventeen Scottish skippers and one processing plant have been sentenced in the High Court for involvement in illegal pelagic (mackerel and herring) fish landings between 2002 and 2005.
Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead has welcomed the penalties handed down on what he regards as a ‘shameful reminder’ of the culture that once existed in some sectors of our fishing industry.
Mr Lochhead also said that of all countries in Europe these prosecutions illustrate just how seriously Scotland views illegal behaviour at sea.
Mr Lochhead said:
“I welcome the verdicts reached today and pay tribute to the police and officers of Marine Scotland for their efforts in what has been a long and vastly complicated enquiry, ensuring that there is no hiding place for such appalling behaviour.
“These cases demonstrate Scotland’s commitment to transparent, sustainable fishing in our waters backed up with effective enforcement. It is important that all countries in Europe do what we have done in Scotland by stamping out such illegal activity.
“There is no doubt that these illegal activities are a stark and shameful reminder of the culture that existed in some sectors of the fishing industry in past years but they do not reflect the much improved culture we see today.
“The offences date back up to a decade ago and, thankfully, there has been seismic change in the attitude and behaviour of the fishing fleet, which can only be good thing in securing a viable future for the industry in Scotland.”