VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A major player in the international salmon farming industry sued author and environmental activist Don Staniford for defamation, claiming in Staniford’s vitriolic campaign against the industry includes false allegations that farmed salmon are toxic to human health.
Mainstream Canada claims Staniford and his group, the Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture, went too far with online campaigns attacking the industry. Beginning in January, according to the complaint, Staniford began “publishing defamatory and false statement of and concerning Mainstream.”
“The defendants carried out this campaign against Mainstream under three titles: The ‘Salmon Farming Kills Campaign,’ the ‘Silent Spring of the Sea,’ and ‘Smoke on the Water, Cancer on the Coast,'” the complaint states.
“The Anti-Salmon Farming Campaign is calculated to injure the aquaculture industry in British Columbia and elsewhere, including Mainstream’s business and the reputation and goodwill it enjoys with its customers. The defendants are also engaging in the Anti-Salmon Farming Campaign for the ulterior purpose of frustrating the World Wildlife Fund’s pending certification scheme for farmed salmon, and with the intention of damaging the aquaculture industry.”
Mainstream also claims the defendants falsely stated that salmon farming is dangerous to wildlife, killing birds, spreading diseases and damaging ecosystems. The defendants compared farmed salmon products to tobacco products, employing “graphic imagery” with Norwegian flags and warning labels akin to tobacco warnings such as “Salmon Farming Kills Like Smoking.”
Mainstream is a subsidiary of Cermaq ASA, a Norwegian company that calls itself a “world leader in salmon production.”
Mainstream claims the defendants – Staniford and his Alliance – ignored a request to cease and desist. It seeks damages and an injunction preventing defendants “from further writing, printing, broadcasting, or causing to be written, printed, broadcast, or otherwise publishing or Mainstream, the Defamatory Words or words of like or similar effect.”
It is represented by David Wotherspoon with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin.