Who's Calling Who a Convicted Criminal?

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The Scottish Salmon Producers’ Organization (SSPO) – the trade body representing salmon farmers in Scotland - has been forced into an embarrassing apology following false claims that award-winning campaigner  and author Don Staniford is a “convicted criminal”. 
 


The SSPO’s press officer apologized via email last week (2 April) and agreed to notify industry members of his error of judgment: 

In an email to journalist Iain Ramage last month (20 March), the SSPO refused to participate in a television interview on Don Staniford’s return to Scotland claiming that “the industry position will still be to not to waste time with this convicted criminal.” 

SSPO member companies Marine Harvest, Loch Duart and Wester Ross also all refused to be interviewed – despite a litany of charges which are nothing short of criminal.


The SSPO is not shy to trumpet all their ‘awards’ and boasts that it is a “trusted source of information”.   

Just today (11 April), Marine Harvest were extolling the virtues of Scottish farmed salmon with The Daily Record reporting on how “Scots Salmon Farmers Reveal the Secrets of Their Booming Success Story”.  


“The perception is of a very high quality product,” claimed Steve Bracken, business support manager for Marine Harvest Scotland.  “If we could be in the same league as something as iconic as Scotch whisky, I’d be absolutely delighted.  We have this great reputation in ­Scotland for top quality products, such as shellfish and whisky, and now salmon is very much part of the group.”
 
Sadly, you’d have to be blind drunk to honestly believe that Scottish salmon farming is at the top of the league for anything other than environmental pollution.  A forensic inspection of the SSPO’s ‘Room 101’ reveals criminal charges, violations, prosecutions and water pollution offences rattling like skeletons in the closet (see below for specific details).

In refusing to be interviewed (and scuppering the news report in the process), the SSPO cited the civil court case involving Don Staniford and Creative Salmon.  “Please find attached details of the court case when activist Don Staniford was convicted of defamation,” wrote their press officer Mr. Hughes.  “He was found guilty of making defamatory statements in January 2007 about a salmon farming company in Canada.”
 


Yet, the SSPO failed to mention that Don Staniford won on appeal in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 2009 overturning the 2007 judgment.  Moreover, Creative Salmon were denied leave of appeal by the Supreme Court of Canada later in 2009 (read the court documents online here and here).  Nor was the case a criminal case. 

The apology from the SSPO followed an email sent by Don Staniford on 31 March threatening legal action:

This is not the first time that the Scottish salmon farming industry has been caught spinning farmed salmon or smearing Staniford.  In 2007, Creative Salmon was even “honoured” for suing Staniford at the ‘Fit for the Future Awards’ in Edinburgh (shortlisted in the ‘Contribution to Aquaculture Category’ category).  “I applaud Creative Salmon for taking the stance that it has, as during Don Staniford’s time working for the Salmon Farm Protest Group in Scotland, I believe there were occasions when the industry felt that it was bedeviled by often ill-informed criticism which did not serve to advance debate,” said Sid Patten, chief executive of the SSPO.
 
Read more via ‘Creative Salmon Honoured for Suing Staniford
 
“This ruling could set a precedent,” continued the former SSPO boss in an interview with Fish Farmer magazine. “Critics who make exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims about the industry will now, more than ever, be aware of the need to be accountable.”
 

However, it is the Scottish salmon farming industry which needs to be held to account – and which ought to be investigated for exaggerated and unsubstantiated claims as well as false advertising
 
“This is not the first time Scottish salmon farmers have been caught telling porkies,” said Don Staniford.  “Such is the level of deceit surrounding Scottish salmon farms that drivers on the West Coast of Scotland are even warned about flying pigs.”

Staniford toured around Scotland last month including salmon farms owned by SSPO member companies.  Norwegian companies control over half of Scotland’s salmon farming production with Marine Harvest (owned by Norway’s richest man – so-called ‘Viking Raider’ John Fredriksen) leading the way followed by Scottish Sea Farms (owned by the Norwegian giants Leroy and Salmar) and Hjaltland (owned by Grieg). 


Speaking to the Nairnshire Telegraph (3 April) he said: “I’m meeting local communities and opponents of salmon farms and opening a can of worms.”
 

Read more via ‘Scourge of the Fish Farms is Heading North
 
Staniford was deported from Canada at the end of February following a defamation case Vs. the Norwegian Government-owned corporation Cermaq (who sold their Scottish operations to the Polish company Morpol in 2010).  The Canadian Press reported (5 March): "Staniford began his journey back to Europe in the same over-the-top theatrical style that inflamed his targets: He arrived at Vancouver International Airport clad in an orange Guantanamo Bay-like jump suit and fake, rubber chains."
 


Read more via ‘Anti-Fish Farm Activist Deported’ and ‘Don Staniford: Salmon Farming Critic Removed from Canada
 
The global salmon farming industry’s clumsy attempts to ‘criminalize’ Staniford backfired badly as the ‘Salmon Farming Kills’ campaign went viral

If the Norwegian-owned industry were trying to silence Staniford they succeeded only in opening the doors in Europe where the activist is now working for the Green Warriors focussing on the salmon farming industry in Norway, Scotland and Ireland. 


Read more via ‘So Long & Thanks for All the Fish: Goodbye Canada, Hello Norway
 
The stench coming from the Scottish salmon farming industry certainly leaves a bad taste in the mouth.   To paraphrase Shakespeare in his play ‘Hamlet’: Something is rotten in the state of Scotland.


Last week (3 April) salmon cages in Shetland “went missing” (yet again) – following the farcical situation over the festive period when officials chased around like the Keystone Cops trying to catch escaped salmon cages.

Read more via ‘Salmon on the Lam: Fish Farms Suffering from a Spate of Escapes
 
Writing in The Scotsman (2 April), Alastair Robertson lambasted the Scottish salmon farming industry:
 
“The farms generate huge quantities of lice which eat the passing wild salmon – an EU protected species. They also affect local sea trout. Yet under present agreements we, the public, are not allowed to know how bad infestations are in our fish farms. It all comes under the bogus heading of “commercial confidentiality”.

Read more via ‘The Farms Generate Huge Quantities of Sea Lice Which Eat the Passing Wild Salmon
 
Writing in The Scotsman last month (26 March), Angus Pirie also fired a broadside against the Scottish salmon farming industry when he said:
 
“Their commercial activities have severely negative consequences for the “public” wider environment, including fish escapes, the impact on wild juvenile salmon and sea trout, degrading of the seabed and so on. Marine Scotland and the Scottish Government have legal responsibilities to protect the wider environment and ensure sustainable development. No other comparable food production industry has such an adverse effect on the wider environment as salmon farming – and that is why it urgently needs credible regulation.” 


Loch Duart – who market themselves as the ‘Sustainable Salmon Company’ - was recently exposed as a company guilty of allowing multiple escapes and using a cocktail of toxic chemicals to combat sea lice infestation problems.   


Read more via ‘Loch Duart’s ‘Sustainable Salmon’ Scam Exposed’  
 
Nevertheless, Scottish salmon farming companies are gearing up for expansion with 86% of companies planning increases in production.  “We must work with government to maintain the high levels of confidence in our industry,” blustered the SSPO’s chief executive Scott Landsburgh in The Scotsman (5 April).  BBC News (5 April) claimed that “confidence in the sector continued to grow” (read more via ‘Confidence ‘rising’ in Scottish Salmon Farming Sector’).

Meanwhile, it can be predicted with 100% confidence that further expansion will inevitably lead to pollution problems. Salmon farmers in Scotland are certainly no strangers to violating environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. 
 

A damning report published by The Sunday Herald in August 2011 revealed that over 50 of Scotland’s fish farms were classified by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) as “poor” (search online here).  According to Rob Edwards:
 
“Scotland’s 1 billion salmon farming industry also came out badly, with 51 fish farms classed as poor in 2010. Many were accused of polluting the seabed with waste.  SEPA’s assessment was described as a damning indictment of the fish farming industry by Paul Knight, the chief executive of the Salmon & Trout Association, which campaigns to protect wild fish. We are constantly assured by the industry’s representatives that Scotland’s salmon farmers operate to the highest environmental standards, he said.  But SEPA’s official report gives the lie to this contention.”
 
Read more via ‘The Companies on Scotland's Dirty List
 
In April 2011, a shocking report from the Salmon & Trout Association revealed dozens of breaches by salmon farms in Scotland.  BBC News reported:

“Guy Linley-Adams, who compiled the dossier and is solicitor to the association's aquaculture campaign, said the information “gives the lie to the bland reassurances we are given by the salmon farming industry that the industry is properly regulated”.  He added: “The devil is in the detail - now we have seen at least some of that detail and it is not pretty, revealing the true extent of the threat to wild fish conservation from sea lice emanating from Scottish salmon farms.”
 
Read more via ‘Salmon & Trout Association Expose the Sham of Salmon Farming
 
Paul Knight, chief executive of the association, added: “This dossier lays bare the reality of what is happening on Scotland's marine fish farms. The breaches of the industry's own Code of Good Practice are so widespread as to call into question the code's basic credibility.”
 
Read more via ‘Inspections Reveal ‘Sea Lice Breaches’ in Salmon Farms
  
So serious is the problem in Scotland that The New York Times reported last year that:
 
“Current levels of salmon farming are already harming wild stocks and that any increase could prove disastrous. Andrew Flitcroft, editor of the British magazine Trout & Salmon, wrote in an op-ed article last month in the British Sunday newspaper The Observer that any contemplation of increased salmon production was “recklessly irresponsible,” unless existing problems with conditions were improved.
 
“The implications of increasing significantly, let alone doubling, farmed salmon production in Scotland are terrifying,” Mr. Flitcroft wrote.  In particular, the spread of sea lice, parasites that breed in the marine cages of farmed salmon, can contaminate wild salmon as they migrate along routes dotted with marine cages. The wild salmon are ill-equipped to resist the lice. “The fish are literally eaten alive,” Mr. Flitcroft wrote. “Make no mistake — there is no such thing as ‘sustainable’ farmed salmon, no matter what the evocative packaging on the supermarket shelves tries to convey.”
 
Read more via ‘An Opportunity, and Peril, for Scotland's Salmon Farmers
 
The brazenly misleading advertising of Scottish farmed salmon is no more apparent than in the M&S’s ‘Lochmuir’ brand – Lochmuir is a fictional construct and figment of the imagination of advertisers (rather like the industry’s ‘sustainability’ claims).  

Read more via ‘Lochmuir salmon? It doesn't exist: How supermarkets invent places and farms to trick shoppers into buying premium food
 
The Scottish salmon farming industry have waged a public relations war for decades with the SSPO’s predecessor, Scottish Quality Salmon, even winning a PR award following the 2004 paper published in Science which revealed that farmed salmon was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. Fish Update reported in 2005 that the industry’s ‘Scottish Quality Salmon: The Facts’ campaign “beat off stiff competition from all over the globe to win the Recovery From Crisis category in the 2005 International Public Relations Association’s Golden World Awards”. 
 
Read more via ‘Spinning Farmed Salmon: Scottish Quality Salmon’s PR and Lobbying
 
Not everyone is so easily duped.  Andrew Flitcroft (editor of the British magazine Trout & Salmon) writing in The Observer newspaper last month viewed Scottish salmon farming as an “environmental calamity” and Scotland as a battleground where there is a “war between the salmon farming industry on the one hand and those trying to protect wild salmon and sea trout runs on the other.”
 
Read more via ‘You're so Wrong about Salmon, Mr Salmond
 
In the ‘war on sea lice’ the Scottish salmon farming industry is fighting a losing battle as resistance renders many of the chemicals designed to kill sea lice useless.  Sadly, Scottish salmon farmers are resorting to more and more toxic chemicals to combat sea lice infestation.  According to last year’s BBC Scotland investigation – ‘Salmon: A Dirty War’: “Salmon farming is a major Scottish industry, but the battle over its environmental impact is becoming more bitter every day.” 


 

BBC News reported that “the level of chemicals used by fish farmers to treat sea lice infestations has risen dramatically”.

Andrew Wallace, from the Association of Salmon Boards, told BBC News that: “the numbers of lice coming off of these farms is horrendous at times.”
 
More background on toxic chemicals via ‘Silent Spring of the Sea’ and ‘Toxic Toilets Revealed
 
Salmon farmers in Scotland are not merely waging war on sea lice but there is a full frontal assault on the environment.  Scotland’s environmental agency – the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) – has struggled to cope but even this toothless watchdog (some would say lapdog) has successfully prosecuted salmon farmers for an orgy of offences under the Control of Pollution Act. 
 
The following prosecutions in Scotland were compiled by the Pure Salmon Campaign and presented publicly during the Seafood Summit and WWF’s Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue in Barcelona in 2008:

Read more via ‘Gaining Transparency: Using the FOI Process to Track Down Data on Fish Farming

“From time to time, fish farming multinationals run afoul of government regulations and are slapped with various financial penalties,” wrote Sarah Cox in a report published in 2004 by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation in British Columbia, Canada.

Read more via ‘Diminishing Returns: An Investigation into the Five Multinational Corporations That Control British Columbia’s Salmon Farming Industry
 
When it comes to Scotland it seems like salmon farming companies are running afoul of regulations all the time.  A report – ‘Scottish Farmed Salmon Exposed’ - compiled by the Pure Salmon Campaign in 2008 opened the can of worms of Scottish salmon farming. 

Scottish salmon farming companies, for example, routinely breach the consented amount of biomass (farmed salmon stock) permitted on the farm – with Marine Harvest the biggest culprits in 2005.

More background via ‘Farmed Salmon Exposed: Global Statistics

 

According to information obtained from SEPA, prosecutions under the Control of Pollution Agct (CoPA) between 1998 and 2006 totalled £69,000 and included:

[Photo from SEPA: Diesel Oil Pollution in Loch Torridon]

As EWOS (a subsidiary of Cermaq) proclaim in their advertising campaign: knowledge makes the difference. 


 
Read more via ‘Scottish “Quality” Salmon Scam
 
Information on further prosecutions since 2006 has been requested via a Freedom of Information request but is known to include the following incidents (and criminal charges):
 
West Minch Salmon (November 2011) – guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.  Fined £70,000. 
 
Hebrides News reported: “A Western Isles fish farming company faces a criminal charge after a man drowned when an allegedly overloaded boat capsized on an island loch.
West Minch Salmon is due to appear in court charged with failing to ensure the safety of its employees including Peter Kenneth Duce who died when the dingy overturned on Loch na Creige at Soval in South Lewis on 26th February 2008.”

Read more via ‘Salmon Farmer Fined After Worker Drowns
 
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that risk assessments prepared by West Minch Salmon Ltd for workers travelling to and from the fish cages were not suitable or sufficient and that the company had failed to provide operating instructions for safe use of the boat used for the task.  The court heard that the boat had been overloaded on a regular basis as the manufacturer's recommendation was that it should carry a maximum of three people. 
 
After the hearing, the Health & Safety Executive said: “If West Minch Salmon Ltd had carried out a sufficient risk assessment and either provided a higher capacity boat or provided and implemented a safe procedure for using the boat that was provided to travel to and from the fish cages in the loch, then this incident would not have happened.”
 
Read more via ‘Scottish Salmon Farming Company Fined After Worker Drowns
 
Scottish Sea Farms (July 2011) - guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following the death of two fish farm workers on a barge moored at a salmon farm on Loch Creran, Argyll & Bute.  Fined £600,000. 
 
Commenting at the conclusion of the case the Health & Safety Executive said: “The deaths in this case should have been avoided - the risks should have been identified and a clear and safe system of work prepared.”

Following an appeal by the companies concerned the £600,000 fine for Scottish Sea Farms was subsequently reduced to £333,335 – it appears the life of a salmon farm worker has been devalued in line with the Scottish salmon farming economy. 
 
Hoganess Salmon (January 2011) – BBC News reported that: “Two fish farm managers have been charged with animal cruelty at a salmon farm in Shetland after the death of thousands of fish.” 
 
Read more via ‘Cruelty Charges Over Shetland Salmon Deaths

Fisheries Information Service (FIS) reported: “The men - regional manager Graham McNally and site manager Ross Morrison - were reported to the procurator fiscal following a five-month inquiry into the chemical poisoning of fish at Burrastow in western Shetland. Both culprits are employed by Hoganess Salmon.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has been investigating the possible animal welfare crimes itself, and four government agencies have been trying to determine whether illegal chemicals were used to kill the fish, reports Shetland Marine News.
“Following an extensive investigation by the Scottish SPCA in relation to an incident at a salmon farm in Shetland, two men have been reported to the procurator fiscal relating to charges under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 for allegedly causing unnecessary suffering and failing to ensure welfare of livestock,” said an SSPCA spokesperson. 

Additionally, other investigations are being run by the Scottish government agency Marine Scotland, the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) and Shetland Islands Council’s environmental health department.”

Read more via ‘Salmon Farm Managers Charged with Animal Cruelty over Salmon Deaths’ and ‘Salmon Farm Facing Prosecution Over Thousands of Fish Deaths

However, the SEPA case was dropped in October 2011 following a bungled investigation which allowed the salmon farming company to slip through the net. 
 

Read more via ‘Court action against salmon farm abandoned after legal error
 
In yet another case, SEPA reported in their 2008-2009 ‘Enforcement Report’:

In another case reported by SEPA in March 2011, a former fish farm owner was fined £600 at Lochmaddy Sheriff Court after failing to remove waste cages and other assorted fish farm waste from a freshwater loch on the Isle of South Uist.  The waste included metal cage structures, wooden components of cage structures, rope, nets, polystyrene flotation blocks, compressed gas cylinders, pumps, waste feed and plastic bags.  Hazel MacLeod, SEPA's investigating officer, said: "This case clearly demonstrates that fish farmers must take responsibility for the impact that abandoned cages have on the environment and must take prompt action to remove these to avoid further environmental impact if the cages are broken up by the action of the weather.
 
Read more via ‘Fined for South Uist Fish Farm Waste
 
In 2011, Wester Ross (a member of the Scottish Salmon Producers Organization) was “accused of lice infestation and pollution that breach official guidelines.”  The Sunday Herald reported that: 
 
“Reports from Government inspectors, released under freedom of information laws, show sea lice concentrations at three of the firm’s sites on Loch Broom and Little Loch Broom have exceeded levels recommended in the industry’s good practice code six times this year.  Evidence released by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) also shows that pollution of the sea bed beneath the three sites – Corry, Ardmair and Ardessie – has been rated “unsatisfactory” 20 times in last 10 years, and “borderline” eight times. The weight of caged fish licensed under environmental rules was also breached five times at Ardessie in 2006 and 2007.”
 

Read more via ‘Award-winning Fish Farm in Pollution Row
 
Wester Ross is a serial salmon farming polluter – and was suspended from the Scottish salmon farming industry’s quality scheme back in 2004 following a £10,000 fine for water pollution.
 
Read more via ‘Scottish “Quality” Salmon Scam - company suspended from SQS’s Tartan Quality Mark scheme
 
Ardessie Salmon was also kicked out of the Scottish salmon farming industry’s ‘Tartan Quality Mark’ scheme in 2000 following revelations in The Observer newspaper and BBC News of illegal chemical use.
 
Scottish salmon farms are also leaking like sieves with mass escapes polluting rivers and impacting on wild fish.  Escapees have also been shown to be contaminated with toxic chemicals.  A report compiled by the Pure Salmon Campaign in 2008, sourced via data obtained via Freedom of Information from the Scottish Government, showed that over 100,000 escapees between 2002 and 2006 had been treated with toxic chemicals such as Emamectin benzoate (SLICE), Cypermethrin (EXCIS) and the antibiotic Oxytetracycline.

Meanwhile, it was revealed earlier this month by Rob Edwards writing in The Sunday Herald newspaper (1 April) that Marine Harvest is attempting to bribe islanders to the tune of £50,000 for a new salmon farm off Colinsay.
 
Read more via ‘What’s the Catch?  Fish Firm Offers Island £50,000 Bribe for Salmon Farm Site
 
In 2009, Rob Edwards also revealed that Marine Harvest suggested sending “some sides of smoked salmon” to staff at SEPA after they processed applications to dose salmon cages with the toxic chemical deltamethrin in a matter of days.
 
Read more via ‘Company Says Sorry for Offering Environment Officials Free Salmon
 
In 2004, it was revealed that Marine Harvest gave the First Minister of Scotland (whose brother operated a Marine Harvest salmon farm) “a pair of gold salmon cufflinks worth more than £100”.  Marine Harvest is used to paying out blood money – racking up a raft of regulatory violations, water pollution offences and infractions around the world. 


In a complaint to the UK’s Office of fair Trading in 2006, Marine Harvest was accused of having a “long history of pollution and environmental impacts in Scotland” including: 

In 2007, Marine Harvest Scotland pled guilty at Stornoway Sheriff Court to five counts, including failure to comply with water use licence; depositing controlled waste, depositing controlled waste by way of burning, knowingly causing controlled waste and activity likely to cause pollution of the water environment at their Amhuinnsuidhe Hatchery, Harris.  Marine Harvest was hit with a £23,500 fine. 
 
Read more via ‘Marine Harvest Fine
 
SEPA reported in their ‘Court Report’: 


In 2007, Marine Harvest was exposed as overproducing at one of their sites on the Isle of Arran.  Investogative journalist Nick Underdown reported for The Arran Voice:

“Figures released under Freedom of Information laws have revealed consistent over-stocking at St Molio’s fish farm site during the course of 2007. Marine Harvest has exceeded the legal ‘discharge consent’ in every month between February and June by as much as 20% . The ‘discharge consent’ is the maximum allowable biomass of farmed salmon permitted by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) on the site. In April, Marine Harvest was farming 239 tonnes of fish more than it was allowed by law. The previous month the farm suffered 1,455kgs of mortalities.”

Maggot-infested Scottish salmon farming is enough to make you sick.

Read more via ‘Marine Harvest Overstocking in St. Molios

In 2006 the Sunday Herald named Marine Harvest as “the worst pollution manager in Scotland” after being put on formal notice by SEPA to clean up pollution from their processing plant in Fort William.  An ‘Enforcement Notice’ ordered Marine Harvest to address a range of problems or face further fines and even imprisonment for Marine Harvest staff. 

 

In 2005, Marine Harvest was fined £4,000 “for allowing fish guts, blood, scum and grease to enter the River Lochy in Fort William”.  SEPA reported that: “This was a serious incident. The discharge was of a highly offensive and polluting nature. Sewage fungus present in the River can smother the bed of a watercourse, and can damage invertebrates and insect life.  Secondary problems associated with smell from decaying matter were also reported to SEPA.  The outfall to the River Lochy is immediately adjacent to a number of houses and Lochyside Primary School.”


The Sunday Herald reported:
 
“The lowest-ranked company was fish farming multinational Marine Harvest, which also failed Sepa’s assessment the previous year. The company’s Blar Mhor plant in Fort William has been served an enforcement notice for breaching eight conditions of its pollution permit, including a “no odour management plan”.  Fish farming campaigners called on the company to clean up its act. “By discharging fish guts, blood, scum and grease into the River Lochy, Marine Harvest has jeopardised not only the health of wild salmon but also the already tarnished reputation of Scottish farmed salmon,” said Don Staniford of the Pure Salmon Campaign.”


In 2005, safety fears were raised by The Sunday Times over the dumping by Marine Harvest of thousands of tonnes of diseased farmed salmon in the Western Isles.  The fish were dumped following an outbreak of infectious pancreatic necrosis and a suspected outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) on the island of South Uist. 


Susan Rothwell, whose home is less than half a mile from the Kyles Paible dump, told The Sunday Times: “The smell is indescribable. The stench of rotting fish day in, day out makes you feel ill. If you go anywhere near the place it is just covered by flies and seagulls.  It is a clear health hazard and there is no way that it should be happening right next to the beach where kiddies play.”

Marine Harvest was also embroiled in controversy in 2004 when their Loch Hourn site, promoted by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, was the subject of a pollution investigation by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.  Jamie Oliver was branded a “whore” by fellow chef Clarissa Dickson-Wright. 

Salmon farming campaigner Bruce Sandison told The Independent: “To try and hold this company up as a wonderful example of excellence in environmental probity and producing high-quality salmon is complete and utter rubbish - and that is what has outraged so many of our supporters.”
 
In 2005, the Salmon Farm Protest Group accused Marine Harvest of “destroying surrounding marine life and failing to meet Scottish Environment Protection Agency environmental standards”.  PR Week reported: “The farm at Loch Hourn has come under fire from campaigners who say they have uncovered more evidence from divers that the bottom of the marine environment is barren and the farm should be shut down.”    


More background via the video ‘Shame Below the Waves
 
The industry gave themselves a pat on the back for promoting pollution by awarding Marine Harvest’s Loch Hourn farm the ‘Best Site’ at the 2007 ‘Scottish Salmon Farming Awards’.    
 
In 2009, The Sunday Herald once again named Marine Harvest in ‘Scotland’s Dirty Three Dozen’.   Marine Harvest’s processing plant in Fort William suffered a “deterioration of performance” in 2008 due to “changes to the company management structure”, said SEPA.
Marine Harvest’s technical manager Dougie Hunter, said he was “disappointed” by the assessment which was partly due to “intermittent odour issues”.
 

Appropriately enough, Marine Harvest’s billionaire owner John Fredriksen (72nd richest man in the world according to Forbes worth $10.7 billion) knows the inside of a jail cell all too well and is used to buying his way out of trouble. 

In the 1980s in Norway, Marine Harvest’s owner was arrested and jailed on charges of insurance fraud – the case was settled out of court and he paid a fine of 2 million NOK and had to pay the insurance company over US $ 800,000 (read more online here).

More background via ‘Salmonopoly
 
In Norway, salmon farming companies including Marine Harvest and a salmon farming company part-owned by Norway’s Fisheries Minister (Lisbeth Berg-Hansen) were recently criticised in a report published by the Green Warriors of Norway (available in English online here). 

Photo: Norwegian Fisheries Minister Lisbeth-Berg Hansen surrounded by sea-lice infested salmon

TV2 reported in 2010 that Økokrim (the Norwegian Environmental Crime Police) that the salmon farming company (Sinkaberg Hansen) owned by the Norwegian Fisheries Minister was being investigated for under-reporting of an escape (read more online here). 
 

Last month, Norway’s Office of the Auditor General slammed the salmon farming industry for a series of pollution offences, escapes, sea lice problems and infectious diseases (available online here – in Norwegian only). 
 
More background via ‘Norway’s Salmon Shame: Auditor General slams industry in damning new report as MPs tour Canada
 
The Norwegian-owned salmon farming industry has also been the subject of growing dissent in British Columbia, Canada, following the spread of Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) – as well as the lies spread by the industry.  

Read more via ‘Norwegian Blues: Monty Python’s Dead Farmed Salmon’ and ‘Lies, Damned Lies & Salmon
 
Mainstream Canada (a subsidiary of the Norwegian Government-owned company Cermaq) was caught in 2008 blatantly violating the terms of its licences in British Columbia via “years of unlicensed over-production”.  According to the Vancouver Sun, fines range from $100 to $2,000 per day (if the Government had chosen to act).  “This demonstration of contempt for Canadian regulations by Norwegian multinational Cermaq, Mainstream’s parent company, and Cermaq’s major shareholder, the Government of Norway, is appalling,” said Catherine Stewart, Living Ocean’s Salmon Farming Campaign Manager.
 
Read more via ‘Mainstream Salmon Farms Blatantly Violate Licenses
 
Earlier this year, Marine Harvest Canada was “fined $5,000 after pleading guilty to a charge of failing to properly return Pacific herring to the wild”. 

Alexandra Morton, who filed a private prosecution against Marine Harvest, told The Courier-Islander (20 January):
 
“I believe it's the first charge ever laid successfully against this industry.  I really thought salmon farming was above the law, so this was the first hard evidence that I've had that the law can, on occasion, deal with this industry. I'm hoping that the public will realize that they can do this. If they see wild fish being killed by the salmon farming industry, they will step forward, because a further charge for this company would be an aggravation.  Five thousand dollars is small, in terms of the corporation Marine Harvest, but it's actually large when you compare it to case law. Commercial fishermen that have been charged for similar type infractions, this was higher than a lot of the ones that they cited.”


Read more via ‘Company Handed $5,000 Fine for Wild Fish Infraction
 
This is certainly not the first time Marine Harvest has flouted the law in Canada.  Marine Harvest Canada was fined $75,000 in 2010 for negligence in relation to the death of a diver at one of its farms.  WorkSafeBC said as the prime contractor of a multiple-employer workplace, Marine Harvest failed to coordinate the health and safety activities of employers, workers, and others at the workplace, and it failed to establish and maintain a system to ensure compliance with the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. 
 
Marine Harvest has also been guilty of causing the deaths of workers in Chile.  In 2005, the labour inspector for the Los Lagos Region of Chile fined Marine Harvest over the death of a diver working as a sub-contractor repairing anti-predator nets around salmon pens. Marine Harvest had neither an emergency plan for work-related injuries, nor a plan for transporting workers to a center for medical assistance, both of which are health and safety norms in Chile. That same month in another incident, a Marine Harvest worker drowned in Llanquihue Lake, because he had not been issued a life jacket. The regional labour inspector cited Marine Harvest for failing to have an up to date accident log and for failing to report the worker's death to authorities, both violations of Chilean labour code.

Marine Harvest’s name is mud in Chile. 

According to an article published in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in 2010, Marine Harvest paid off the widow of a dead diver in Chile (with a figure of 7.2 million Norwegian kroner – or around £800,000 – cited in the article). 


The global salmon farming giants may be able to buy people‘s silence but they cannot shake the smell of blood on their hands.
 
Read more via ‘Fish Farmageddon: The Infectious Salmon Aquacalypse
 
In 2009, Dagbladet also named over a dozen dead workers associated with the salmon farming operations of Marine Harvest and Cermaq in Chile in the period 2005-2009 – with over 50 dead workers in total since 2005.   



Read more via ‘New Report Blasts Chile Salmon Industry: More Than 50 Industry Workers Dead Since 2005
 
Deaths of workers in Scotland is also sadly a cost of doing business and Scottish salmon farming companies have been found negligent by the UK’s Health & Safety Executive on numerous occasions.  Prosecutions undertaken under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 include:
 
- Lighthouse of Scotland: fined £8,000 in 2004 following an investigation of a fatality by the Health and Safety Executive.  The Health and Safety Executive summarized the case as:
 
“Failure to provide and maintain plant and systems of work that were so far as reasonably practicable safe with respect to fish husbandry operations on a fish farm at sea and failure to ensure that life jacket provided was maintained in an efficient state, working order and in good repair and that employees were provided with information, instruction and training re maintaining life jackets.”
 
- Loch Duart (also known as ‘The Sustainable Salmon Company’): fined £2,000 in 2000 at Dornoch Sheriff Court. 
 
Other health and safety concerns reported by the Health & Safety Executive include cases involving Marine Harvest, Lighthouse of Scotland (Pan Fish), Corrie Mhor Salmon, Landcatch, Kinloch Damph and Kames Fish Farm.  Marine Harvest, for example, has been served with several ‘improvement notices’ by the Health and Safety Executive.  One notice served to Marine Harvest Scotland in 2002 read: “Wavemaster cages in the 30 cage group are not so far as is reasonably practicable, in a condition that is safe and without risks to health indicated by the twisting and submerged walkways, rusting walkway mesh and damaged/missing guard rails.”
 
Another notice served in 2002 against Marine Harvest in Loch Ewe read: “That on 22 May you failed so far as was reasonable to ensure that the diving at work regulations were complied with in that the diving team hired by you from Seahorse Aquaculture was undersized, underqualified, wrongly equipped and did not carry employer's liability insurance. They also failed to produce a diving project plan.”
 
In 2006, it was reported by The Scotsman that an inexperienced diver had died at Marine Harvest’s salmon farm in Loch Ewe, Wester Ross, after becoming entangled in a rope attached to a cage as he attempted to clear out dead fish.  Seahorse Aquaculture was fined £5,500 for failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of an employee, and for failing to insure employees against bodily injury. 
 
In January 2007, Marine Harvest was criticized by Sheriff Desmond Leslie after a ten-day inquiry into the death of Martin Blackley - a Royal Marine.  BBC News reported that at the time of the accident Marine Harvest had failed to “police its health and safety procedures and practices adequately”.  On the day of the accident Mr. Blackley was diving to remove dead farmed salmon from a pen owned by Marine Harvest in Loch Ewe.

The Scotsman reported:
 
“In his judgment, Mr Leslie said no risk assessment had been undertaken and there was no two-way communication system between staff.  The inquiry at Dingwall Sheriff Court also heard there had also been no back-up oxygen and no diving plan.  Mr Leslie said: ‘This project was ill-fated from its inception. The safe systems of work designed to prevent an occurrence of this nature were disregarded at every level of the operation. The approach taken was casual in the extreme.  Diving industry standards and procedures were ignored and no effort was made either on behalf of Marine Harvest or Seahorse Aquaculture to implement fundamental provisions, which, if adhered to, would have avoided Mr Blackley's death’.”
 
The Scotsman continued:
 
“Speaking of Marine Harvest, the sheriff said: "The lack of management procedures, a casual or token regard for health and safety issues, no managerial rigour in enforcing recognised best practice and little on-site awareness or concern for health and safety issues all contributed to a blase approach to diving operations."   A Marine Harvest spokesman last night said: "We deeply regret this tragic accident and our thoughts are with Martin's family." He added that all company diving procedures were reviewed immediately after the accident.  Mr Blackley's mother, Jeanette, said: "The judgment tells us what we knew, that the death could have been avoided. There should have been no accident because there should have been no dive."
 
In 2008, Mainstream (then owned by the Norwegian company Cermaq) was fined £14,700 for a series of health and safety failings uncovered following the death of one of its employees who fell overboard.  The Shetland Times reported:
 
“The company pleaded guilty to having no continuous guardrail on the starboard side of the 20-metre Conquest, no guard rail around raised work platforms and no guard rail or sufficient high raised edge around the hold hatch.  They also pleaded guilty to not ensuring life jackets were in working order and failing to implement a maintenance system to ensure the automatic inflation mechanisms were in an efficient state.  The company also accepted that it had failed to ensure the ship operated in a safe manner. As well as having no side railing on the starboard side over a distance of three metres, the deck on the starboard side was obstructed by two large-diameter hoses. There was no lighting on the main deck and no suitable assessment of the risk to workers had been made.”

The Scottish salmon farming industry have blood on their hands too in relation to the deaths of marine mammals.  Scottish salmon farmers are permitted under the law to kill seals – with over 1,000 seals licensed to be killed during 2011


Read more via ‘Licence to Kill – Salmon Farmers in Firing Line During 2011 Scottish Slaughter of Seals
 
In January 2012, the Scottish Government issued 58 licences to kill seals including 30 licences covering a total of 227 fish farms - the maximum number of seals involved is 805 grey and 274 common (more details online here).  In Shetland, seven salmon farming companies (Meridian Salmon Group, Hjaltland Seafarms, Scottish Sea Farms, Thomson Brothers Salmon, Balta Island Seafare, Uyeasound Salmon Company and Bound Skerries Seafoods) have been permitted to kill 115 seals in 2012.

The killing of marine mammals is no laughing matter. 


Last month, two salmon farm managers (Graham McNally and Ross Morrison) in Shetland were charged under the European Habitats directive with unlawfully killing seals at Lerwick Sheriff Court.   The two men are accused of using nets for the purpose of taking or killing grey and common seals at two sites off Shetland’s west mainland run by Meridian Salmon Group.
 
Read more via ‘Salmon Farm Managers Charged with Seal Deaths
 
In 2008, headless seal corpses washed up on the shore near Marine Harvest’s salmon farm in Loch Alsh – a Special Area of Conservation.  Nigel Smith who runs Seaprobe Atlantis Wildlife Cruises around Skye and Lochalsh, said he discovered the two carcasses, which had their heads missing, on a beach at Kyleakin close to Srom Fish Farm run by Marine Harvest.
Mr Smith said: “One reason could be that the heads had bullet holes in them and they didn’t want people to see they were shot, or they may have been shot with the wrong calibre of weapon. The seals were relatively fresh, so I don’t believe that the heads could have decayed and fallen off.”   A spokesman for Marine Harvest said: “Regrettably, from time to time we do need to shoot seals that attack our stocks. This is done as quickly and humanely as possible and in strictly controlled circumstances.

Read more via ‘Skye cruise operator raises suspicions over headless seals
 
In 2005, Marine Harvest was also “accused of recklessly shooting seals”.  

Read more via ‘Seal Killing Concern at Fish Farm
 
The slaughter of seals by Marine Harvest made a splash in the Scottish Sunday Express via the article ‘Suffering in the Culling Fields’.   

Read more via ‘Scottish fish farmers 'conducting secret seal slaughter'
 
Scottish Sea Farms, another member of the SSPO, was also accused of killing seals in a Special Area of Conservation in 2006.  “I honestly believe that Scottish Sea Farms, the company involved in the slaughter and based at South Shian by Oban, engaged in what can only be described as a mass slaughter of seals,” wrote Mark Carter of Marine Concern. I estimate that the total number of seals shot in and around the Lismore SAC to be in excess of sixty.”
 

The slaughter of seals may be permitted under Scottish law but is illegal under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (details online here). 

Last month, the Scottish charity Save Our Seals Fund called on the U.S. Government to ban the import of Scottish farmed salmon into the United States.  John Robins, Secretary of Save Our Seals Fund, said in a press release (17 March):
 
“We have asked the American Department of Commerce to use existing legislation to ban the import of Scottish salmon to the USA. It is unfair to US salmon farmers who protect wildlife to allow them to be undercut by Scottish farmers who are allowed to use the cheap option of shooting seals. I hope the American Government can force Scottish salmon farmers to install seal exclusion nets, something the Scottish Government and the RSPCA have disgracefully failed to do. At the moment when you buy Scottish salmon, even RSPCA endorsed Scottish salmon, you pay for bullets to shoot seals. That has got to stop.”

Read more via ‘Farmed Salmon in Firing Line – Complaint Filed Under U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act
 
In British Columbia, Canada, in February 2012 the Norwegian-owned salmon farming company Grieg was charged with violating the Fisheries Act.  According to The Globe & Mail (22 February): “A court document filed by Gregory Barton Rusel, a fishery officer based in Gold River on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, states the company “did unlawfully destroy marine animals ... by drowning.”  Seven counts deal with the deaths of an unspecified number of sea lions, and two counts are related to the deaths of an unspecified number of seals.”
 
Given the trigger-happy use of toxic chemicals and shotguns, it is little wonder then that salmon farmers are labelled as ‘aquatic terrorists’.


 

So who’s calling who a “convicted criminal”?


 
See you in court sometime soon!