Don Staniford is being sued as an individual by Mainstream Canada a subsidiary of the Norwegian owned company Cermaq. The trial began last week. While his lawyer pushed to include the global impact of salmon farming, that was denied by the judge and the case focuses on local impact and claims by Staniford that salmon farming marketing uses techniques similar to the tobacco industry and the suggestion that eating farm salmon causes cancer.
David Wotherspoon of Fasken Martineau acting for the plaintiff Mainstream Canada/EWOS Canada starts the proceedings with his ‘Opening Argument’ making the case to Justice Elaine Adair (the sole judge presiding over the case – there is no jury) that the mock cigarette packets employed by the defendant Mr. Staniford via the ‘Salmon Farming Kills’ campaign “draw odious comparisons”. Mr. Wotherspoon proceeds to undermine Mr. Staniford’s character
Mr. Wotherspoon argues this case is not about right to free speech and that Staniford appears motivated by spite and ill-will.
Brock Thomson, the plaintiff’s first witness, takes the stand. Mr. Thomson is an area manager for three salmon farming sites in the Campbell River area. The plaintiff plays a short video of salmon farming detailing how salmon is farmed in a sustainable way and farmed salmon is healthy. Mainstream issues a press release: Mainstream's legal arguments will show that the damaging allegations published by the activist are malicious and unsupported by facts or fairness.
I take issue with some of the testimony by the Mainstream employee:
We choose deep sites to reduce the impact on the benthic environment, - Actually some of their sites are quite shallow like Sir Edmund and Cypress Bays at the mouth of Kingcome Inlet. Perhaps they have tried to reduce impact, but the bottom is dead in many places I have looked at around their feedlots. I have put cameras and gabbers down at these sites and there has been heavy impact. This is a picture of the seafloor near Mainstream's Cecil Island feedlot, you can see smothered sponge reef habitat.
The Mainstream employee goes on to say: Fish therefore are essentially free of the signs of disease. I read the BC government fish farm vet's of farm salmon health and there are thousands of disease signs recorded in farm salmon. Not all of these are Mainstream fish, but many should be if this company participated in the government audits.
Download BCP002864 Histopathology FHAS 2006-2010.xlsx (1636.7K)
Mark Hume, writing in The Globe & Mail (19 January), reported: “A defamation case against a fish farm critic cannot be turned into a public inquiry that puts aquaculture on trial for its practices globally, a Supreme Court of British Columbia judge has ruled. Madam Justice Elaine Adair on Wednesday refused an application from defence lawyer David Sutherland to amend the pleadings of Don Staniford, a controversial fish farm critic who says the case is an attempt by big business to silence him.”
Lise Bergan, Cermaq’s Corporate Affairs Director flew in from Norway to take the stand.
Under cross-examination by David Sutherland, Ms. Bergan denies that the salmon farming industry is controversial in nature. When asked about lawsuit in California involving PCBs in farmed salmon, Bergan says she has heard about it. lawsuit
When asked about a scientific paper assessing the cancer risks of farmed salmon consumption Bergan says use has not read the article.
Download nutrition_article copy.pdf (142.2K)
Mr. Sutherland says the paper refers to an advisory recommending consumption of one meal of farmed salmon only every five months.
Bergan states she has not heard of this debate. She notes that the tobacco industry is seen as deliberately hiding the science about the effect of smoking. She says she is not aware of the salmon farming science being hidden.
Cermaq's lawyer objects, saying there should not be speculation on opinion.
The judge overrules his objection and the line of questioning continues:
Staniford's laywer, Mr. Sutherland asks Bergan if she has heard of the process that endeavors to wash out PCBs from farm salmon feed paper she indicates that she has not heard of this.
Sutherland goes on to ask about the use of GM soy and corn, and pesticides in making farm salmon feed. Bergan says she doesn't know about this.
Today, Mary Ellen Walling of the BC Salmon Farmers is on the stand.
If you want to contribute to Don's legal funds you can do so at: Contributions
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