Huon Aquaculture starts offshore farming

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Australian salmon producing company Huon Aquaculture has obtained permission from the Tasmanian state government for a research project in offshore farming, six kilometers from the coast.

The project will take place at three locations off Cape Conella on South Bury Island, the company announces in a press release.

The permit follows the release of the state government’s draft Sustainable Industry Growth plan last week.

Off shore farming

Huon has been pioneering offshore farming over the last three years at its leases in Storm Bay.

The new three-year project will take effect in three phases. Phase one includes deployment of remote monitoring systems for assessment of the physical, chemical and biological conditions; phase two will involve deployment of prototype equipment for testing, while in phase three one or more sites will be developed to pilot-scale farming using the new technology.

“We believe the future of our company is in offshore farming and to explore the potential even further offshore, in even rougher waters, we need reliable environmental monitoring, scientific research and technological innovation,” David Morehead, Huon’s general manager of marine operations, said.

Call for international symposium

The company also released a discussion paper on the future of salmon farming, and called for an international symposium on that subject.

“We have a once in a generation opportunity to establish a strong framework that will guide the safe, sustainable growth of a world-class salmon industry,” said Huon Aquaculture co-founder and Executive Director Frances Bender.

Huon has invited a wide range of stakeholders to meet with company representatives to discuss their sustainability assurance framework in order to both collectively and individually understand one another’s views, Bender continues.

“Our document is aspirational and speaks to our belief that as a responsible business there is an opportunity to improve our performance and set the benchmark for future expansion, while at the same time increasing the independence of our regulatory framework.”

International knowledge exchange

Huon would, among other things, like to see an independent Finfish Aquaculture Regulator that brings together environmental, biosecurity and fish health regulation under a single regulatory function.

Huon has written to the Tasmanian State Government to propose an international salmon symposium hosted by IMAS, the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies of the University of Tasmania, in October.

“It is important that we learn from the experience of other salmon growing regions and listen to experts and scientists, to help inform the direction our industry takes going into the future.”

“Right now we have 18 staff in Norway attending the world’s biggest aquaculture conference, and in the last 12 months more than 30 Huon staff have travelled overseas to share our experiences and learn from others,” says Frances Bender.

Huon is prepared to financially support the symposium and has invited other salmon farmers and suppliers to financially support the idea to bring it to reality in October, Mrs Bender adds.