Community activism against the expansion of salmon farms is a growing risk for Australian salmon producer Tassal, according to the company’s board of directors, reports The Advocate.
In the company’s 2016-2017 annual report, chief executive Mark Ryan and chairman Allan McCallum said this is not unique to aquaculture and is part of doing business in many industries.
“However, given the size and nature of Tassal’s operations in Tasmania, it does represent specific challenges and a proactive engagement strategy has been defined.”
Okehampton Bay farm
Tassal faces opposition from environmentalists to its new salmon farm at Okehampton Bay, on the east coast. The Tasmanian Greens want a ban on a new near-shore salmon farm, plus a moratorium on new salmon farms and the expansion of existing ones.
The company’s board of directors says that this could also affect rival producer Petuna, which is considering a possible aquaculture operation in the Northwest.
Tassal also ran into trouble at Macquarie Harbour, on the West Coast, over environmental non-compliance and was ordered to de-stock a lease earlier this year. It plans to restock that lease in 2018.
The board of directors believes that the recent issues are a symptom of the industry starting to test the natural capacity and growth limits for fish farming in current lease areas, using today’s technologies and methodologies.
“Successful aquaculture and its growth is about finding common ground on shared values around environmental, operational, financial and community values, and for salmon, respecting the use of shared waterways.”
In their view, growing salmon is one of Tasmania’s ‘anchorage industries’. The industry’s growth needs to be effected in a way that does no lasting damage to the environment and adds value to communities. Tassal is ready to face this challenge, they said.
Tassal reported a net profit of 45.5 million USD after tax for 2016-17, which was approximately 7.5 million dollars higher than the previous year’s result.
The company expects to continue to grow revenue and operating earnings in the current financial year.