Bakkafrost court showdown looms: Has Mowi’s mixed result lowered expectations?

Editorial Staff

Bakkafrost and salmon farming activist Don Staniford are set to meet in court in Scotland next week.

On Tuesday 26 March, the Dunoon Sherrif Court will play host to an initial options hearing between prominent anti-salmon farming activist Don Staniford and Faroese salmon farming giant Bakkafrost.

The company has alleged multiple unauthorized entries by Staniford onto its property over recent years, substantiating its claims with evidence of several intrusions at its sites.

Bakkafrost had been aiming to legally prohibit Staniford from entering or approaching within 15 meters of any part of its aquaculture sites, including structures, vessels, and pens.

Additionally, the company seeks to ban him from flying drones or operating unmanned underwater vehicles over or near their seabed leases and aquaculture sites. Staniford is also to be prevented from directing others to engage in these activities on his behalf.

In the Scottish court system, an options hearing is a pre-trial court appearance where the parties involved discuss various options available for proceeding with the case. These hearings are typically held to streamline the legal process and address key procedural matters before the trial officially begins.

During an options hearing, the judge, along with the prosecution and defense attorneys, may discuss several matters, including:

  1. Plea Options: The defendant may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or, in some cases, may indicate an intention to plead guilty to certain charges while contesting others.
  2. Trial Format: The parties may discuss whether the trial will be conducted by judge alone or by judge and jury. They may also address any requests for special procedures or accommodations.
  3. Legal Issues: The judge may hear arguments or address any legal issues raised by the parties, such as motions to suppress evidence or requests for pre-trial rulings.
  4. Evidence and Witnesses: The parties may discuss the admissibility of evidence and the availability of witnesses for the trial.
  5. Timetable and Case Management: The judge may set deadlines for filing legal documents, scheduling future court appearances, and establishing a timetable for the trial proceedings.
Mowi case

Following the partially successful appeal by Staniford in March of the ruling in an earlier battle with Mowi, Bakkafrost may be lowering its ambitions.

In the Mowi case, that has served as a template for subsequent lawsuits by other salmon farming companies, the notion of a 15 meter ban, and the prohibition on the flying of drones was dismissed by the sheriff.

“The pursuer’s pleadings refer to industry regulation, animal welfare, and the safety of persons in the vicinity of the marine farms. These are not relevant considerations either, and we have not taken them into account.  Private regulations cannot encroach on public rights,” ruled the sheriff.

Court delivers opinion in Mowi Scotland vs. Don Staniford appeal

Bakkafrost breeds, rears and harvests salmon, from more than 60 sites across the West Coast of Scotland and Hebridean Isles.

Scottish Sea Farms, a joint venture between Norway’s Leroy Seafood and SalMar, have also initiated legal proceedings against Staniford.


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