Mowi Scotland is seeking a permanent interdict (injunction) against environmental campaigner Don Staniford, an environmental activist known for taking undercover videos of salmon farms and protesting the national salmon industry through organizations like Scottish Salmon Watch and the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture.
As a result of a recent foray by Staniford into one of Mowi Scotland’s facilities, the company is seeking a court order against him, claiming his actions are putting employees and fish at risk and his continued presence on its property despite repeated requests for him to stop.
“This person’s behaviors and actions that we have borne witness to over the past two years give cause for great concern, and are not something that our staff should have to endure whilst going about their daily work," Mowi COO Ben Hadfield said in a release. "Everyone should be able to go to work and expect their workplace to be free of harassment and intimidation."
The company is seeking a court order to ban Staniford from “entering onto, attaching vessels to, or approaching within 15 meters of all structures, docks, walkways, buildings, floats, or pens at its salmon aquaculture farming sites.”
Staniford was served with court papers in the first week of October, and he agreed to cease activities covered in Mowi's complaint pending the outcome of the court's decision.
Mowi cited multiple independent audits and site visits conducted by trained professionals all finding no issue with Mowi's operations. In his most-recent action Staniford took video at a Mowi site, where he alleged salmon were being mistreated. However, an investigation by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found no evidence to support allegations of animal abuse.
Mowi Scotland’s salmon farms were inspected 316 times in 2020 by third-party organizations including Marine Scotland, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, and the RSPCA, it said.
“We have not wanted to pursue legal recourse, but we cannot stand by and watch any person risk injury to themselves or for them to intentionally or unintentionally bring harm to our employees or our fish. These incursions are dangerous, unauthorized, risk our strict health protocols, and have an unacceptable impact on our dedicated employees,” Hadfield said.
In a statement, Staniford stood by his accusations of welfare abuse, mass mortalities, and lice infestations at Mowi's farms in Scotland, and said "it is not surprising that this Norwegian-owned behemoth wants to stop the public from finding out the ugly truth about Scottish salmon."
"I will be defending Mowi's legal action in the strongest terms," he said.
In May, Staniford was criticized by another salmon producer, Scottish Sea Farms, for sensationalizing the discovery by the Fish Health Inspectorate of a non-pathogenic form of infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV) in fish at one of its farms on social media.
“The Fish Health Inspectorate Report clearly states that no notifiable diseases were found and the infectious salmon anemia virus listed was non-pathogenic. In other words, it was not harmful to fish stocks – wild or farmed – and no further action was required,” Scottish Sea Farms Head of Fish Health and Welfare Ralph Bickerdike said. “Unfortunately, these latest claims are yet another example of an activist sensationalizing a story, which only serves to hurt both farmer and farming sector.”
Scottish salmon is the U.K.’s largest food export product, bringing in more than GBP 600 million (USD 817 million) in 2020.
Photo courtesy of Don Staniford