NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Fishermen admit £7m 'black fish' scam

Hamish Slater and Victor Buschini
Image caption Hamish Slater and Victor Buschini admitted the charges

Two fishermen have admitted making false declarations about fish worth more than £7m which they landed.

Victor Buschini, 50, and Hamish Slater, 51, masters of the Fraserburgh boat Enterprise, made the "black fish" landings on Shetland.

The landings of mackerel and herring were at Lerwick between 2002 and 2005, the High Court in Edinburgh heard.

They were made at Shetland Catch Ltd, which previously pleaded guilty to assisting skippers commit the crime.

Sentence on Slater, from Fraserburgh, and Buschini, from Hambleton, Lancashire, was deferred until 10 January.

Advocate depute Peter Ferguson QC said: "Pelagic fishing vessels in Scotland are the largest and most profitable in the Scottish fleet.

Image caption The Fraserburgh boat Enterprise was involved in the landings at Lerwick

"They can catch and hold on board very large quantities of herring and mackerel.

"These vessels can catch hundreds of tonnes of fish in their nets and with modern technology can quickly take the catch on board and deliver it to the fish processor."

The advocate depute added: "Shetland Catch Ltd is, and was at the time of the offences, the largest pelagic fish processing operator in Scotland and one of the largest in Europe."

The judge, Lord Turnbull, commented that "a sophisticated and commercial operation" was involved.

Scott Pattison, director of operations at the Crown Office, said: "The consequences of over-fishing on this scale are far-reaching and the impact on fish stocks and the marine environment is potentially devastating."

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