FOUR fishing boat skippers who admitted landing millions of pounds worth of herring and mackerel have been fined a total of £155,000.
The four, all shareholders in the Fraserburgh-based Klondyke Fishing Co, breached European regulations to land so called black fish between January 2002 and February 2005.
They were eventually caught under Operation Trawler, which has seen a string of successful prosecutions in Scotland and millions of pounds levied in fines and confiscations.
Yesterday, Andrew Tait, 50, William Tait, 50, Robert Tait, 45, and Peter Tait, 44, were ordered to hand over thousands of pounds after a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Judge Lord Turnbull ordered Andrew Tait, of Strichen Road, Fraserburgh, Robert Tait, of St Combs, Fraserburgh, and Peter Tait, of King’s Gate, Aberdeen to hand over £40,000 each.
The judge ordered William Tait, of St Combs, Fraserburgh, to hand over £35,000.
Fresh Catch Ltd, also of Fraser-burgh, Aberdeenshire, was fined £160,000 by Lord Turnbull for handling quantities of illegal fish between January 2002 and February 2005.
Speaking after the verdict, the senior detective who led the Grampian Police investigation that led to the four men being caught, Detective Superintendent Gordon Gibson, said: “Having led this investigation for over fours years now, it has been extremely complex and is a prime example of how various agencies working closely together have been highly successful in bringing no less than 31 individuals and three large companies to justice.
“Fines totalling nearly £1.75 million have been handed out by the courts and over £8,100,000 has been seized under the proceeds of crime over the course of this investigation and bear testament to my view.
“The greed shown by these men and the respective companies has been absolutely staggering, at a level never seen before in the UK and that should not be forgotten.”