Tassal’s expansion plans face opposition from environmentalists

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Australian salmon company Tassal wants to double its production by 2030, but has difficulty finding farming locations, reports ABC news.

Australians are eating more salmon than ever before and the industry is struggling to keep up with demand. There’s an ambitious plan to double salmon farming in Tasmania by 2030, turning it into a billion dollar industry – something the State’s economy could well use.

Tasmania’s biggest salmon producer, Tassal, has almost 8 million salmon in the water across the State. But the company can’t keep up with demand and is running out of suitable areas to farm. So now it’s moving into more remote locations.

But environmentalists claim such farms are already damaging Tasmania’s waterways and they don’t want new ones.

Linda Sams, spokesperson for Tassal, confirms that her company is planning to double its production by 2030.

“We’ll do that in a number of ways: through growing more fish as well as by growing fish more efficiently.”

Reduction in abalone productivity
Tassal had started to place salmon cages at Lady Bay, one of the remotest places in Tasmania, five hours drive from the state capital, Hobart. But under community pressure Tassal will move 28 new salmon cages a short distance around the corner of the bay.

Locals are worried about both the visual impact of the cages and the noise of wellboats coming in and out every day.

Also, abalone fishermen have noticed a reduction in productivity. Divers from the abalone industry have stopped working in areas around Tassal salmon farms because of the reduction in catch. They’ve joined the calls to block the expansion.

Local environmentalist Rebecca Hubbard is calling for the expansion plans to be halted.

“The industry’s expanded hugely in the last 20 years and unfortunately now that means that they are polluting Tasmanian waters with fish feces and uneaten feed falling from the cages. There’s concern that it’s impacting on the marine life and the fish in the area.”

Tassal has research which shows any changes caused by salmon farming are not permanent, says Linda Sams.

“There’s a lot of different influences happening in the waterway and we’re just one of them.”

High unemployment
With the highest unemployment in the country, Tasmania needs all the jobs it can get. Will pressure from the environmental movement be shutting down the growth of one of Tasmania’s most promising new industries?

Environmentalist Rebecca Hubbard does believe that salmon farming has a future in Tasmania.

“But it needs to be done smarter. If the salmon farming industries carry on as they are now, we risk undermining and damaging that value for future communities.”

Linda Sams realizes her company needs to find a balance in how it operates.

“But we can’t always make everybody 100 percent happy.”