I’m writing to draw attention to the crowdfunder that has just gone live, accessible here
Background to salmon fish farming activism
There are now court cases by three of the largest industrial salmon producers in the world (MOWI, Scottish Sea Farms, and Bakkafrost) against the individual environmental activist Don Staniford. Together, these companies operate many, if not most, of the groups of cages that are now to be found in almost every inshore sea loch on the west coast. Staniford is one of a tiny group of dedicated environmental activists undertaking work which government regulators, such as Marine Scotland and SEPA, have singularly failed to do in recent years; that is monitoring what is going on in our coastal environment. Due to a combination of reduced budgets, restrictions on inspections during lockdown, and, in the case of SEPA, a catastrophic hacking which shut down its entire computer system, these bodies have failed to keep a proper watch on a public asset.
The work done by Staniford and others has resulted in horrific images finding their way into the mainstream media with, currently, hardly a day passing without a new revelation. The evidence gathered has ranged from massive death tolls on units, to instances of animal cruelty, to the use of seal scaring devices. When the full results are known, it’s likely that 2023 will prove to have been the worst ever for salmon dying before reaching maturity. Consequently many million fish are sent by road for chemical disposal representing thousands of lorry loads on our West Highland roads.
Current court action against fish farming activist
Instead of addressing the problems on their sites, these large multinational companies have chosen to go to court. The cases have been brought in local sheriff courts in Argyll & Bute, with each company asking the court to grant orders of interdict, equivalent to injunctions in English law, the effect of which would be to create effective exclusion zones preventing Staniford and, by extension, any other member of the public, from approaching closer than fifteen metres from a fish cage. What is notable is that in none of the cases is there a suggestion that Staniford has caused any damage in the course of his investigations. His activities are conceptually quite distinct from those of protesters such as Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion.
Bizarrely, the three companies also seek to prevent Staniford from operating drones over their units, as if they can control not only our open seas, but the air space above it! He does not operate drones, but others have done so, and the footage that has emerged has been incredibly revealing.
As someone with a long term interest in our coastal environment, I have been happy to carry out basic research work as a minor support to Staniford’s legal team. I will not be taking any benefit from the crowdfunder, which is purely to cover court costs and provide some compensation to the professional solicitors and counsel, dedicated and principled men, who have, to date, put in hundreds of hours of work, totally unpaid.