Paul Watson, founder, CEO and celebrity face of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, one of the world's most high-profile and controversial environmental groups, told IntraFish his group is committed to ending salmon farming around the world.
"We can and will stop it," Watson wrote to IntraFish in an email response to an article published Tuesday.
Watson expounded on his views in a Facebook response to the IntraFish story, calling salmon farming "an unsustainable invasive industry that is poisoning consumers and destroying marine eco-systems."
Watson said IntraFish's piece was evidence the salmon farming sector is concerned about the recent spate of issues impacting them.
"In this article ... we can see that the industry is worried, and they should be worried for our objective is to shut them down," Watson wrote.
"We must continue to be relentless, loud, intrusive and steadfast as we continue to intervene against what is a major ecological crime against humanity."
Small-scale opposition so far
Sea Shepherd has been supporting campaigns against British Columbia farms in coordination with other campaigners and First Nations groups in the region for the past few years, in coordination with local salmon farming opponents.
However, the organization raised the stakes and its profile in Newfoundland, where the group's drone footage of the mass Mowi farmed salmon die-off was featured on a CBC investigation, prompting public outcry that pressured government officials to suspend licenses at several farms, according to Locky Maclean, campaigns and ship operations director at Sea Shepherd.
Maclean, who is currently on Vancouver Island coordinating a campaign against Cermaq's ongoing algae-related die-off in Herbert Inlet in Miller Channel, told IntraFish Sea Shepherd "absolutely" is increasing its focus on and funding for anti-salmon farming campaigns.
"We're taking a keen interest in these operations," he said of salmon farming.
The group this week has campaigners in Bergen, Norway, home to salmon farming giants Mowi, Leroy Seafood and Grieg Seafood among other major aquaculture companies. Maclean said the purpose of the campaigners' visit is to conduct interviews and collect data on salmon farming companies in the area.
Next, Maclean said, the group is planning a Tasmanian campaign targeting salmon farms there.
While Sea Shepherd's campaign against salmon farming is nascent, most concerning to the salmon farming industry is the reach of Sea Shepherd and its founder and his skill in garnering media attention.
Since the founding of his anti-whaling group, Watson, one of the founders of Greenpeace, has gained notoriety and garnered criticism for his aggressive, dangerous and sometimes illegal tactics, which have included ramming vessels.
Watson is on Interpol's "red list" -- effectively an international arrest warrant -- at the request of Japanese authorities for damaging a whaling ship in 2010. He's been accused of an array of crimes over the years, including attempted murder.
Watson's modus operandi, as well as his cultivated persona as a benevolent pirate, have been featured in documentaries and even a reality TV show on the Animal Planet channel.
A feature film documentary released earlier this month, "Watson," takes a look back at his career, including his skill with attracting the attention of media, which, in one reviewer's words, Watson learned to use "as both shield and weapon."
Maclean said Sea Shepherd "at times" is in dialogue with companies they are campaigning against, but said members of the NGO have no plans to meet with salmon farming executives in Bergen this week.