Norwegian Government, may have been banking on Staniford submitting to its
demands out of court due to a lack of funds to pursue the case - but any chance
of that happening disappeared over the past weekend when the activist raised
over $20,000 in public donations for his legal battle. Staniford has been
building his case, giving depositions and collecting evidence over the last
several months but only went to the public for funding this past Friday, when he
launched a page on the community fundraising site gofundme.com.
Since then, as of this printing, over $11,000 have tumbled in - in
contributions that range from $10-500 a pop, most of them being in the $30-50
region. The goal of the gofundme.com
campaign is to raise $50,000 in total.
On top of those online donations,
a Norwegian fishing group, The Wild Salmon Warriors of Norway, announced this
morning it was kicking in 60,000 Norwegian Krone
($10,000 CAD) of its own. As the
former director of the global Pure Salmon Campaign, Staniford frequently
traveled the world of the aquaculture industry, drawing together an
international alliance of over 30 groups and coalitions battling the industry
in Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Chile, the United States and Canada.
(Full disclosure: I've worked with Staniford on the Pure Salmon campaign -
including my film "Farmed Salmon
Exposed" and other initiatives
over the years).
Staniford has already received $20,000 in legal
funding from West Coast Environmental Law - directed toward his lawyer David
Sutherland, an expert in defamation law. The injection of up to another $60,000
would be an enormous boon to Stanford's case, which revolves around a recent
campaign of his targeting the open net pen salmon farming industry.
campaign employs a series of graphical representations resembling a cigarette
package - emblazoned with messages similar to surgeon general's warnings, such
as "Salmon Farming Kills" - to highlight problems with the industry. Cermaq's
defence is based on the notion that statements like these, coupled with the
cigarette iconography, give the impression that farmed salmon is hazardous to
human health. Staniford's counsel will likely counter that the implication is
salmon farms kill things like seals and sea lions (often shot by salmon farmers
to prevent predation of their stocks) and wild salmon, through the incubation
and transference of sea lice and diseases by farmed to wild fish. Moreover, it
will make the case that the analogy to the tobacco industry derives from
comparable approaches to denying science that is critical of industry.
According to the Canadian
company's trial brief states it's seeking $100,000 in general damages, $25,000
in punitive damages and a permanent
injunction to stop Staniford from writing, printing or
broadcasting defamatory words against Mainstream." (emphasis added) It's that
last piece - the concept of a lifetime ban from speaking out against the company
- that has Staniford determined to fight. In a recent Victoria Times-Colonist story on
the case, Staniford told reporter Sean Sullivan, "This is about justice for wild
salmon and freedom of speech.”
Clearly, this David-and-Goliath battle
has captured the public's attention, as the dollars roll in to support
Staniford's case. But it's Cermaq that sees itself, ironically, as the David in
this battle. According to CP, spokesperson for Cermaq subsidiary Mainstream
Canada - the second largest fish farm operator in BC - "[Laurie] Jensen said the
company is playing the role of David. 'I think we're on the righteous end of
things in that we have to defend ourselves,' she said. 'If we don't, we do a
disservice to our communities, our partners, our employees.'"
part, Staniford appears ready for the duel. Further emboldened by this
outpouring of public support, he claims, "I am going to fight until the bitter
end and win."