Courts act against an “irrational” anti-aquaculture activist in Scotland and a Washington State public official, who is trying to shut down salmon farms for political gain.

Courts rein in anti-salmon farming activist, US politician

Courts act against an “irrational” anti-aquaculture activist in Scotland and a Washington State public official, who is trying to shut down salmon farms for political gain.

By Fabian Dawson

An anti-aquaculture activist, who was deported back to the UK after his antics in British Columbia were described as irrational, has been ordered to stay away from Mowi’s salmon farms in Scotland.

Sheriff Andrew Berry of the Sheriffdom of North Strathclyde in Oban granted an order of interdict to Don Staniford from:

  1. boarding, entering onto, physically occupying, attaching himself to, attaching vessels to or approaching within 15 metres of all structures, docks, walkways, buildings, floats, or pens of Mowi’s salmon aquaculture farms;
  2. flying unmanned aircraft, also known as drones, above Mowi’s salmon aquaculture farms; and
  3. instructing, procuring, encouraging, or facilitating others to so act, and for an extended interdict ad interim.

“Mowi is pleased that the Scottish courts have granted the company’s request for a permanent interdict (order) against an individual who, despite repeated requests not to do so, had continued to put himself and the company’s employees and animals at risk,” the company said in a statement.

Mowi Scotland COO Ben Hadfield said: “While our company will listen to and engage with people who may be critical of our business, we will not stand by and accept individuals harassing and intimidating our employees at their workplace. We had sought this interdict to protect the safety and wellbeing of our employees, our fish, Staniford and his associates, and we are pleased that the court has agreed with Mowi’s position.”

Staniford has indicated he is appealing against the decision.

The British national was deported from Canada in 2012. He did not dispute that he had been living in BC illegally since his visa expired in 2010.

His anti-fish farming antics while in BC, triggered a defamation suit brought against him by Mainstream Canada, then the province’s second largest salmon farming company.

According to court records, Staniford arrived on the B.C. scene in 2004 as a paid employee of Friends of Clayoquot Sound.

In her decision, Madam Justice Adair of the BC Supreme Court said there are many problems with Staniford’s credibility. 

“I have concluded that Mr. Staniford is akin to a zealot. Virtually anything that conflicts with his view and vision is wrong, bad, disgraceful and worse…He is highly suspicious. Neutral facts will lead him to jump to irrational conclusions, she wrote.

Justice Adair said Staniford “cruelly and publicly mocks people who have different points of view …. He is aiming to ridicule and humiliate people who do not agree with his views.”

Meanwhile, a court in Washington State has ruled that an order by Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz to “ban salmon farming” in local waters has no legal effect.

Franz, who is backed by anti-fish farming activists to be the next governor of Washington, had issued an executive order last December to ban the State’s 40-year tradition of fish farming in Puget Sound.

The summary judgement was handed down by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Indu Thomas last Friday.

The case was brought by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and the Northwest Aquaculture Alliance’s (NWAA) which challenged the decision by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe was in partnership with Cooke Aquaculture to raise native Steelhead trout in Puget Sound, when Franz announced her so-called ban.

Franz during her November 18, 2022, press conference had announced that ‘Washington’s public aquatic lands will no longer be home to commercial finfish net pen aquaculture.”

It was just hyperbole on the part of a politically motivated agency head who is now running to be the next Washington governor, said Jeanne McKnight, NWAA Executive Director.

“While we are grateful for the clarification by the Court, the fact remains that the public statements by Commissioner Franz had a chilling effect on the entire aquaculture sector, caused by the climate of uncertainty from DNR’s public condemnation of one of the world’s most sustainable methods of food production,” said McKnight.

“Now that we can confirm that marine fish farming is still legal in Washington state, we will continue to advocate for the development of responsible, sustainable aquaculture in the Pacific Region.”

Franz ordered her so-called ban after the Washington State Supreme Court found unanimously the claims about disease and sea lice impacting wild stocks – that have been propagated by anti-fish farm activists in the Pacific Northwest – to be without merit.

These same activists are now behind Franz’s re-election campaign and run for the governorship of Washington.

A broad range of US national, state, and species-specific trade associations, fisheries scientists, resource economists, and veterinary medicine professionals, have also sent Franz a letter saying they are concerned at the lack of peer-reviewed science and historical data that would support the ban.

“We believe that a third-party review is needed to show that Franz’s order has no basis in scientific fact and is, in essence, an unsupported action by a government agency,” the letter stated, adding; “Most of the US seafood industry believes the order to be just plain wrong.

The US government has also released a biological opinion showing net-pen aquaculture has little to no negative impact on endangered species in Puget Sound.

The findings are similar to what was determined in 10 peer-reviewed government studies conducted by Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) that showed salmon farms had minimal impact on the wild fish migrating through the Discovery Islands area of British Columbia.

Facebook File images of Hilary Franz and Don Staniford