September 14, 2022
Major Norwegian fisheries pay US$85 million price fixing settlement
Major Norwegian fisheries are now free from antitrust litigation relating to their alleged scheme to fix the price of farm-raised Atlantic salmon, following approval of their US$85 million settlement with salmon processors and other direct purchasers by a federal judge in Miami, Fish Information & Services reported.
The agreement, which resolves class action claims the fisheries faced in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, was approved by Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga. She also gave counsel for the salmon buyers US$25.5 million in legal fees and US$2.6 million in expense reimbursement.
Affiliates of Mowi ASA, Grieg ASA, SalMar ASA, Lery Seafood Group ASA, Cermaq Group AS, and Ocean Quality AS are among the businesses involved in the settlement. The fisheries have repeatedly denied wrongdoing and described the settlement as a pragmatic choice based on the costs of litigation.
Co-lead attorneys for the purchasers Peter Prieto of Podhurst Orseck PA and Chris Lebsock of Hausfeld LLP said they were "very pleased" with Altonaga's decision to approve the deal.
They said that if those in positions of power can conspire or collude to fix prices, markets cannot prosper nor function properly.
They also said the court's approval of this settlement has made consumers in the US who enjoy salmon and consumers generally better off today.
In a 2019 lawsuit, the fisheries were charged with fixing the price of salmon on the world market by fiddling with a Nasdaq benchmark index linked to the fish's daily "spot" price in Oslo.
The case is a part of a wave of cartel litigation involving agriculture, livestock, and protein, including the tuna, chicken, turkey, beef, pork, dairy, and egg industries. It echoed an investigation by European antitrust enforcers and a Justice Department probe.
- Fish Information & Services