An SSF site at Westerbister, Orkney. SSF has been dropped from a price-fixing class action in the US. Photo: SSF.

Scottish Sea Farms dropped from US legal action

Scottish Sea Farms has been released from a class-action lawsuit in the United States that alleges Norwegian-owned salmon companies colluded to fix prices.

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A report by seafood news website IntraFish said the plaintiffs (those suing the salmon farmers), led by seafood supplier Euclid Fish Company, voluntarily dismissed SSF from the case.

The plaintiffs filed an amended suit in Florida last August against salmon farmers Mowi, Grieg Seafood, SalMar – which owns 50% of SSF - and Scottish Sea Farms and/or some of their subsidiaries.

‘Restraint of trade’

It alleges that beginning in July 2015, or earlier, salmon farmers and co-conspirators entered into and engaged “in a contract, combination, or conspiracy with regards to farm-raised salmon and products derived therefrom in unreasonable restraint of trade in violation of sections of the Sherman Act”.

The action is based on an ongoing European Commission investigation about possible price-fixing collusion between Norwegian salmon producers.

Offices of Mowi Scotland, Grieg Seafood Shetland and Scottish Sea Farms, which are all Norwegian-owned, were all subject to “unannounced inspections” by the EC on February 19 last year.

Criminal probe

The Scottish industry believes the EC was using the raids as a back door into the affairs of the farmers’ Norwegian parent companies. The UK’s membership of the EU meant the EC had more power to act in Scotland than in Norway.

Civil suits related to alleged price-fixing were filed in the US in the wake of the raids, and in November Mowi, Grieg Seafood, and SalMar disclosed that they were being subpoenaed by the antitrust division of the US Department of Justice in relation to a criminal investigation.

The companies have denied any wrongdoing.