Salmon farm. (Photo: Tassal)
Tassal and Petunia given green light to stock Macquarie Harbour site
Thursday, July 19, 2018, 02:10 (GMT + 9)
The joint venture between Tassal and Petuna Aquaculture has been granted approval to undertake partial and limited stocking of the Franklin marine farming lease (MF266) in Macquarie Harbour from July 2018 until May 2019.
The decision, which caused opposition from conservationists and Green Party, was made by Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Tasmanian Director Wes Ford.
Ford pointed out the new joint venture arrangement will place the operational management of seven leases with Petuna, and that he has agreed to open the lease MF266 to allow the company to commence stocking it, subject to licence restrictions.
which has been allowed to commence stocking it, subject to licence restrictions, such as:
- All other areas of the lease to remain under a fallow direction and must not be re-stocked without approval.
- Any additional areas of the lease would require pre-stocking approval from the Director.
- Stocking approval is only granted for the period July 9 2018 to May 31 2019.
- A maximum biomass limit of 3000 tonnes will apply for the lease.
- A total feed input limit of 4500 tonnes is set for the July 2018 – May 2019 period.
- Visual compliance monitoring at designated compliance points to be undertaken monthly.
- Full compliance surveys to be undertaken in September 2018, January 2019 and May 2019, as per existing requirements.
Nevertheless, conservationists have lobbied for the harbour to be completely destocked, citing fish deaths and a so-called "dead zone" underneath the Franklin lease.
In this regard, Laura Kelly from Environment Tasmania said the salmon companies should let the harbour recover.
"We're seeing small signs of recovery, but still really worrying signs with gas bubbles, bacteria and poo-eating worms dominating the marine life recovery,” she pointed out.
For her part, Greens leader Cassy O’Connor warned the salmon industry had “again been let off the leash”.
“The Greens have no confidence that restocking the Franklin lease is the right move for Macquarie Harbour and the adjacent World Heritage Areas,” she said.
”We need to stop allowing the industry to write its own rules. That’s what got Tasmania’s marine environment into trouble in the first place and it has undoubtedly caused significant damage to Macquarie Harbour,” she added.
In her opinion, there should be a moratorium on fish farm expansion until they can truly deliver a world’s best practice industry.
Meanwhile, Petuna is seeking to fallow its eastern most lease, which has recently been de-stocked at the end of the growing cycle, to provide a better biosecurity and environmental management framework for the long term. This approach is consistent with international best practice to have longer fallowing periods and the separation of different year classes of fish.
"This is a material shift in how farms in the harbour have been managed in the past and will achieve significant biosecurity and environmental improvements in the long term," Petuna chief executive officer Ruben Alvarez stated.
The company said environmental surveys at the fallowed site had shown "good recovery to a number of key benthic health indicators within the lease".
- Tassal and Petuna create joint venture to improve marine farm biosecurity