The date today is 08-12-10

Trust us to manage stocks

Nov 25th, 2010 | By editor | Category: Commercial

A call from the commercial fishing sector that is often heard and generally allied with complaints that scientists and conservationists have no idea about fish stocks.

Having no idea may be true to some extent – but perhaps that is due to the actions.

Six more commercial fishermen appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh this week and admitted their parts in a scam worth more than £15 million. This latest case makes a total of 14 commercial fishermen who have appeared on such charges and the total value of the illegal fish landings has been put at more than £37 million.

One of the accused owned up to a new record ‘black catch’ worth more than £5.6 million; the fish processing company Shetland Catch also admitted helping the skippers to give false information.

The latest offences were committed between January 2002 and March 2005 when the group of commercial fishermen landed tonnes of herring and mackerel which exceeded quotas set by EU regulations aimed to protecting fish stocks.

The scam came to light when accountants were brought in to examine the books of the eight processing factories in Scotland when fisheries protection officers became suspicious that there were widespread illegal landings of mackerel and herring. It was discovered that the figures did not add up for Shetland Catch and the firm was raided in September 2005.

The case is due back in court in February when lawyers will report on progress they have made in trying to calculate the illegal profits made by the fishermen. Until that process has been completed they cannot be sentenced - the penalty for breaking the regulations is an unlimited fine but they cannot be jailed.

Meanwhile the six Shetland fishermen who admitted similar offences in August are still awaiting sentence and two Fraserburgh fishermen, whose boat was also involved in illegal landings are due back in court in January.

Fish stocks are a Common Resource.

Can we really expect the commercial sector to manage stocks in everyone’s interests ?

Past behaviour suggests they have only one interest.

Related posts:

  1. £15 million of unfortunate mackerel
  2. Another £7 millions worth of illegal landings
  3. West of Scotland, Irish and Celtic Sea stocks
  4. Holyrood can’t manage a single fish
  5. English and Welsh anglers to help manage fisheries

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