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Marine / Grieg Seafood Shetland raided by EU inspectors

SALMON producer Grieg Seafood Shetland has confirmed that inspectors from the European Commission investigating price fixing allegations have raided its plant in Lerwick earlier on Tuesday.

The Gremista plant is one of several UK offices of Norwegian owned salmon farming companies inspected by officials from the EC’s competition directorate.

Trade website Undercurrent News reported on Tuesday that Scottish Sea Farms, a joint venture by SalMar and Leroy Seafood Group, has also been inspected, as has Mowi’s (formerly Marine Harvest) plant in Rosyth.

In a statement issued to Shetland News late on Tuesday, Grieg Seafood said it was fully co-operating with the investigation.

“We have been informed that The European Commission DG (Director General) Competition is exploring potential anti-competitive behavior in the salmon industry. They have performed an inspection today at Grieg Seafood Shetland,” the statement read.

“The salmon market is very competitive and we are not aware of any anti-competitive behavior. We are fully co-operating with the European Commission DG Competition’s investigation.”

The European Commission has meanwhile confirmed that it is in the early stages of looking into allegations of cartel activity in the Atlantic salmon sector, adding that its officials were carrying out unannounced inspections in several member states.

“The commission has concerns that the inspected companies may have violated EU anti-trust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices,” the statement said.

“The commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities.

“Unannounced inspections are a preliminary investigatory step into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.”

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Canadian owned Cooke Aquaculture said it was not being investigated by the European Commission. The company is farming salmon in Shetland and in Orkney.