Australia’s biggest salmon company, Tassal, started towing fish pens into place at Okehampton Bay on Tasmania’s east coast, writes ABC news.
Last week the Australian government granted Tassal licenses for salmon farming activities on the east coast. Most salmon farming will be banned from this coast, as part of the Tasmanian grow zone plan, that identifies grow zones for salmon farming on the state’s north-west coast. Because Tassal’s license was already granted, an exception has been made for the company’s plans.
Local environmental organisations are worried about the new salmon farms. Tassal has been plagued by environmental issues at its operations at Macquarie Harbour on the west coast. In January, the Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) reduced biomass stocking limits from 20,000 tonnes to 14,000 to address deteriorating conditions in the harbour around Tassal’s salmon lease.
The Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) report revealed ‘worrying’ dissolved oxygen levels around salmon leases in the harbour, warning it could lead to significant environmental damage.
Ongoing risk management
Tassal’s CEO, Mark Ryan, said new waste capture systems approved by the Environment Protection Authority had been installed to avoid this scenario in the future.
“Recent surveys earlier this year show we are seeing signs of biological recovery. Lessons have been learnt from this experience, which will form part of our ongoing risk management and sustainability initiatives in the future to prevent such events occurring not just in Macquarie Harbour, but across Tassal’s operations.”
Tassal also stated that should the domestic market lose interest in its product, the company would exploit the potential of exports to China.
“We will be setting up an office in Shanghai with on-ground support late in the first half of financial year 2018,” Ryan said.
Tassal plans to farm 800,000 fish in 28 pens at Okehampton Bay. This week, the EPA revised Tassal’s licence to include additional monitoring.