Tassal eyes biomass hike with new permit

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Australian producer Tassal has been granted a permit by state authorities to begin the process of establishing a salmon farm off King Island on the North West Coast, a prime fisheries area.

The company has 12 months to determine the extent of “administration, research, monitoring and compliance activities required”, all of which will determine the license costs.

Company boss, Mark Ryan, cautioned that environmental studies over the large exploratory area meant new production in the idyllic area would not be immediate.

“As Tassal and the Tasmanian salmon industry seek to grow salmon farming output, stakeholder interest will increase,” company chief executive, Mark Ryan, had said in an earlier statement. The comment was construed as a nod to area fishermen and other local interests.

Prices are at “historically high levels for the domestic wholesale market and are anticipated to continue in full-year 2018.” He admitted export prices are still “volatile” but “on average higher than previous periods”.

He said that in 2017, Tassal salmon were kept in the water longer and attained “optimized margins” as a result. The King Island permit is aimed at future biomass increases.

Tassal has achieved a “step change” in its biomass and fish size this year, and fish harvested now are 4.80 kilogram. Fish size and biomass are “expected to continue to improve in full-year 2018”.

The company acknowledged, however, that its King Island project means “increased review and scrutiny of salmon farming in Tasmania”.

“Tassal welcomes the increased scrutiny into its industry, which by and large has been positive and constructive with respect to the communities in which Tassal operates,” a statement said.