Scotland’s largest salmon farmer, Mowi, is seeking a permanent interdict in the courts to prevent activist Don Staniford from accessing its farm sites without permission.
Mowi said that it had commenced proceedings to apply for the interdict – the Scottish equivalent of an injunction – preventing Staniford from “entering onto, attaching vessels to or approaching within 15 metres of all structures, docks, walkways, buildings, floats or pens at its salmon aquaculture farming sites”.
Don Staniford, through his own organisation Scottish Salmon Watch and more recently through Animal Concern, has on numerous occasions carried out covert filming at farm sites operated by Mowi and other fish farmers, with the aim of publicising what he has alleged are welfare abuses.
He said in response to news of the lawsuit: “I will be defending Mowi’s legal action in the strongest terms… given the gruesome nature of welfare abuse, mass mortalities and lice infestations it is not surprising that this Norwegian-owned behemoth wants to stop the public from finding out the ugly truth about Scottish salmon. Thankfully, the truth always wins out in the end and I look forward to debating these vital legal issues in open court.”
Mowi said that Staniford’s incursions onto their property have put himself, the company’s employees and the animals at risk. COO Ben Hadfield, COO at Mowi Scotland, said: “This person’s behaviours and actions that we have borne witness to over the past two years gives cause for great concern, and is not something that our staff should have to endure whilst going about their daily work. Everyone should be able to go to work and expect their workplace to be free of harassment and intimidation.”
Hadfield also stressed that salmon farming in Scotland is highly regulated, and Mowi’s farms were inspected 316 times by third-party organisations including Marine Scotland, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
He added: “While these behaviours and the complete lack of respect toward our employees are deeply concerning to us, the basis for these court proceedings is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our employees, our fish and Mr Staniford and his associates. Our business also receives much oversight from licensed professionals, government regulators and third-party auditors, and therefore does not require the services of self-appointed individuals.
“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, unauthorised, risk our strict health protocols and have an unacceptable impact on our dedicated employees.”
Don Staniford has used video footage and photography to bring several welfare complaints against Mowi and other salmon farmers, but so far none of the complaints have been upheld.