Seafood importer Beacon Fisheries Inc. lodged a proposed class action on Wednesday in Florida federal court, accusing several Norwegian-owned fish farming companies and their affiliates of conspiring to fix prices on Atlantic salmon they grew for sale in the U.S.
Beacon claims the price-fixing scheme has been ongoing since at least mid-2015. The Sunshine State-based seafood importer says the conspiracy came about as a response to the vagaries of the international market for farmed Atlantic salmon.
“Norwegian salmon farmers bear the typical risk of a commodity market, which includes substantial fluctuations in price as demand and available supply are reported on a historical, spot, and forward-looking basis,” Beacon alleges in the suit. “To forestall this risk, defendants must collude to ensure that prices remain stable, or increase, and to ensure that revenues are sufficient to sustain the continuous costs of the lengthy production cycle.”
Beacon says this collusion works in the U.S. because the fish farming companies — Mowi ASA, Grieg Seafood ASA, Lerøy Seafood Group ASA, SalMar ASA, Scottish Sea Farms Ltd., Bremnes Seashore AS and Ocean Quality AS — have a “captive market.”
“Farmed Atlantic salmon sold in the United States is sold under long-term contracts that commit the buyer to specified volumes of fish,” Beacon said. “Buyers are not able to negotiate price; rather, they are forced to pay the commodity price that fluctuates over time.”
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Beacon Fisheries is represented by Manuel J. Dominguez and Leslie M. Kroeger of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Gregory P. Hansel, Randall B. Weill and Michael S. Smith of Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios LLP, and Joseph C. Kohn, William E. Hoese and Douglas A. Abrahams of Kohn Swift & Graf PC.