West coast fishermen successfully blocked merger plans by two competing seafood processors in the Northwest, Pacific Seafood and Ocean Gold, in an antitrust appeal Tuesday.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an Oregon federal judge’s injunction barring the sale.
An earlier antitrust lawsuit against the two firms was settled in 2010 but when the Pacific buyout of Gold was announced in 2014 a new group of fishermen sued. They alleged the merger would lead to monopolization and was illegal under antitrust law.
The fishermen demonstrated the proposed merger “would substantially lessen competition,” concluded Judge Wallace Tashima. He said the injunction was not overly broad and rejected the processor’s demand for arbitration of the dispute.
The fishermen sell their catch to Pacific and Ocean Gold processing plants and wanted to insure competition between buyers for their fish. Throughout the litigation, Pacific Seafood and Ocean Gold were parties to an exclusive marketing contract, under which Pacific acted as the exclusive marketer and distributor of Ocean Gold’s products, according to the court.
Case: Boardman v. Pacific Seafood Group, No. 15-35257