More than 60,000 harvest-ready salmon dead at Tasmanian farm

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Temperature spike sees mortality crisis for Tasmanian producer.

Petuna Aquaculture is facing a growing mortality crisis at its marine farm at Rowella in the Australian state’s north.

The farm, along the Tamar River, has experienced a temperature spike recently in what the company has described as an “unusually short time frame”, followed by a prolonged period of long, hot days.

It is not known how many fish have died, but Environment Protection Authority (EPA) director Wes Ford says the number is in the thousands.

He said higher temperatures started about a week ago and increased mortality “progressed over the course of the last seven days”.

“At the moment they’re having to take fish out on a daily basis and send them to disposal. It’s not a small loss,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

The company says temperatures in the water are now trending downwards.

Petuna CEO Ruben Alvarez has told Tasmanian Broadcasters, “for now, our immediate concern is to safeguard those fish that have not been affected by removing those that have perished, as well as supporting our farming team who are working to manage the situation.”

The exact number of fish mortalities has not yet been confirmed by the company due to the ongoing retrieval operation. However, Tasmanian Broadcasters understands the loss is estimated to be more than 60,000 pre-harvest fish weighing more than five kilograms. Although earnings will be protected by insurance, lost profits will not.

According to Petuna’s website, the Tamar River produces around 2800 tonnes of salmon per year and employs 25 people.