Anti-salmon farm activist must pay after losing Supreme Court appeal

Anti salmon farming activist Don Staniford must pay Cermaq Canada $75,000 in damages after his appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada was dismissed without being heard on Feb. 13.

He is also on the hook for Cermaq’s legal costs.

Cermaq-formerly known as Mainstream Canada- said its legal action against Staniford stemmed from prolonged, malicious and unfounded defamatory attacks on the company.

The crux of the issue was a media campaign Staniford ran in 2011 likening eating farmed salmon to smoking cigarettes.

Cermaq filed an appeal and in July 2013 the BC Court of Appeal ruled Adair’s ruling was incorrect because Staniford’s website did not contain a link to any publication connecting farmed salmon to cancer.

Staniford was ordered to pay the company $25,000 in general damages and $50,000 in punitive damages.

The Supreme Court’s dismissal with costs upholds this tab and reaffirms an injunction banning Staniford from making similar remarks against the salmon farming industry in the future.

Cermaq called the decision a vindication of the company’s reputation as a producer of nutritious salmon and responsible corporate citizen.

“We welcome public debate but it should be based on facts, and critics should be held accountable for their public commentary,” said Cermaq Canada’s corporate sustainability manager Laurie Jensen through a media release. “The heart of our company is our employees and we need to stand up for them and defend them against malicious and defamatory attacks and against cyberbullying.”

The Global Alliance Against Industrial Aquaculture Network (GAAIA) website operated by Staniford is back online at www.salmonfarmingkills.com.

Staniford had temporarily shut down the site in 2013 subject to legal advice.

Cermaq Canada’s communications officer Grant Warkentin declined to comment on the Supreme Court’s decision.

He did speak in general terms about misinformation being spread about the industry.

“There is an awful lot of incorrect information out there about salmon farming; a lot of it is based on operations in other countries or it’s based on information that’s 10 or even 20 years old,” he said. “It’s a problem because on the Internet it’s so easy to get access to incorrect information.”

He said Cermaq provides as much information as possible on its website-www.cermaq.ca-regarding the company’s practices.

“When we say we’re committed to sustainable aquaculture, we really mean it,” he said.

reporter@westerlynews.ca