Bakkafrost Scotland seeks to block activist from sites
Veteran anti-salmon farming campaigner Don Staniford must agree to stay away by December 1 or face court action
Bakkafrost Scotland has become the latest salmon farmer to resort to the law to stop veteran activist Don Staniford making what it calls “incursions” at its marine sites and shore bases.
The move follows Mowi Scotland’s successful application for an interdict keeping Staniford at least 15 metres from its sites, and Staniford’s undertaking to a court that he will also stay away from Scottish Sea Farms sites while that company’s own legal action against him is ongoing.
A lawyer acting for Faroese-owned Bakkafrost has written to Staniford’s solicitor, Jamie Whittle, to demand that Staniford also keeps off the company’s sites.
John MacKenzie, of Edinburgh-based legal practice Shepherd and Wedderburn, said Bakkafrost requires this confirmation in writing by 4pm on 1 December 2023.
“Failing this, Bakkafrost will be left with no option but to raise court proceedings against Mr Staniford. If proceedings are raised, no further warning will be given to you beforehand,” wrote MacKenzie.
In the letter, which can be read here and was sent to Fish Farming Expert by Staniford, MacKenzie states: “For several years, your client and other individuals have regularly accessed (or at least sought to access) our client’s marine farms, marine assets and other land-based facilities without our client’s consent. Our client tells us that it has documented, and has evidence of, numerous examples of incursions at its facilities.”
The lawyer lists nine examples of Staniford’s incursions, which include flying a drone above a marine farm, from 2018 to 2023. These include climbing onto and opening a mort bin at Quarry Point, Loch Fyne, to film the dead fish inside, and boarding gangways on net pens then lifting bird netting to insert a recording device in the water.
“Your client’s actions are not only unacceptable to our client because he is accessing our client’s property without its consent, but because at least some of his actions pose a danger to himself, our client’s staff and the individuals who accompany him. Your client’s actions also jeopardise the welfare of our client’s fish,” wrote MacKenzie.
Right to protest
He added that Bakkafrost has a “reasonably held belief” that Staniford will continue to act as he has done in the past.
“This is particularly so given that he is now interdicted from accessing Mowi’s sites and has undertaken not to access sites operated by Scottish Sea Farms Limited,” wrote MacKenzie.
“While our client respects your client’s right to peacefully and lawfully protest, and in no way seeks to interfere with the responsible exercise of that right, this does not give him the right to board, access or otherwise interfere with our client’s property. Indeed, in a case involving Greenpeace, the court was clear that the lack of access to a particular location is not destructive of the right of freedom of expression or freedom of assembly. In short, your client does not require access to our client’s facilities and premises to exercise his right to protest.”
Fish Farming Expert has asked Staniford whether he intends to comply with Bakkafrost’s demands but has not yet received a reply.