One of Scotland’s biggest fish farm companies hired a private investigator to spy on a leading critic of the industry and produce an intelligence report tracking his movements, an expose has revealed.
An investigation by the online news organisation The Ferret found that internal industry documents released by the Scottish Salmon Company show that a former chief executive of the multi-million pound business requested an intelligence report on fish farm campaigner Corin Smith and another unnamed person in November 2018.
The Ferret’s investigation states that included in ‘intelligent report’ are “analyses of Smith’s movements and behaviour, monitoring of his social media accounts, and pictures of his house. Searches were conducted of his financial and legal history, as well as for keywords and terms relevant to Smith on the Dark Web.”
It goes on to add: “The report recommends surveillance of Smith and the other individual – whose name is redacted- for 48 hours before and after fish farming events.
“It also suggests a “deep dive financial investigation” on the other individual, and “ongoing monitoring of crowdfunding and social media posts to pre-empt any activities or protests planned” by Smith and the other campaigner.”
The Ferret reported that the document was released after a Subject Access Request lodged to the company by Smith and is dated to 28 November 2018.
It added that Mr Smith had shared photos with them of a GPS tracker he alleges was located on the underside of his car in June 2021.
The news organisation also confirmed that Police Scotland had received a report from Mr Smith concerning the tracking device and the Scottish Salmon Company’s ‘intelligence report’ and that enquiries were ongoing.
Corin Smith is a campaigning photographer and the founder of Inside Scottish Salmon Feedlots – which seeks to seeks to prevent the expansion of, and ultimately eradicate, open-cage salmon farming on the west coast of Scotland through community activism and campaigns.
Speaking to the Free Press this week, Mr Smith said: “The private investigator who produced the report commissioned by SSC recommended that they put me under surveillance for 48 hours at a time, before and after different events, and look into my background for anything they could use against me.
“I always expected something like this to happen, hopefully, though, what it will do is bring some balance, so the politicians – who, perhaps, rightfully, sing the praises of the economic benefits that the industry brings – can get a grip of these companies.
“It is disappointing that community leaders like Ian Blackford and other politicians stand squarely behind these companies when they should advocate for their local communities to have a proper voice.
“Everyone in the west coast is terrified to say anything about the salmon farming companies, and this is the reason, they throw their weight around when they don’t get their own way.
He added: “They think they can get away with anything in Scotland and do what they want, you see it over and over again in the planning system – people aren’t allowed to say no to these companies.”
“Whatever the local communities decide is up to them, but they should have a proper voice and if they say no they should only have to say no once.”
On Friday (3rd December) Mr Smith shared images – below – via the Inside Scottish Salmon Feedlots social media accounts of an alleged tracking device which he claims to have found on the underside of his car, as reported by the Ferret.
Mr Smith has also shared images of the some of the documentation he acquired through his Subject Access Request to the Scottish Salmon Company relating to its surveillance operation.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Salmon Company said: “The gathering of these documents relates to the practices of previous senior management and were archived several years ago; at the person’s request all information about them was immediately deleted from our systems.
“As a business we do not engage in such practices.”
Addressing the future of the industry and how he believed environmental concerns could be tackled, Mr Smith said: “I think the Scottish Government should take the difficult step and ask open cage salmon farming companies to transition to a far less intensive and environmentally damaging form of industry, just as Norway is doing.
“Because in 20 years’ time, if things are still the same, the world will say we don’t want your product just as people have said they don’t want diesel cars and coal fired power stations, but at that point Scotland will be high and dry.”
Article by Adam Gordon.