Australia’s most endangered fish under threat from salmon farm, say environmentalists

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Plans to move fish affected by a POM-V outbreak near to the red handfish’s only known habitat are causing concern.

According to ABS news, Huon Aquaculture is moving potentially diseased salmon close to a fragile eco-system in Tasmania, home to the last remaining handful of the fish, of which there are believed to be as few as 80 left in the wild.

The salmon farmers are seeking permission to put fish previously infected by POM-V into unused leases at Norfolk Bay, where they would be harvested.

Environment Tasmania, the state’s conservation council, said that it wanted any move the fish into the bay to be reviewed by the Federal Government. Currently the proposed movement of salmon to Norfolk Bay still needs to be signed-off by Tasmania’s Environment Protection Authority. However, Huon could move the fish there as early as next week if the plans are approved.

The proposed site shows in dark pink the site of the red handfish environmentalists are worried about. PHOTO Environment.gov.au

“I think they’re relying on old leases which were granted many years ago and I don’t think the science or the assessments can be held valid today,” strategic director Philip Cocker told the publication.

Huon co-owner Frances Bender said the “temporary and short-term harvest operation” would not affect other species.

“Huon does not believe there will be an impact on endangered species, inclusive of the handfish,” she said.

“The argument seems to have been they might be sick but we’re not sure whether they’re sick so we will take them into a pristine environment,” Mr Cocker concluded. “I just think that makes no sense to me at all.”