Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association

Community Support for Salmon Farming

Click on the following link for the TSGA – Community Survey October 2016 – Executive Summary Report

Tasmanian public sees the Salmon Industry as vital to the state

The Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association has released EMRS market research conducted in October 2016 that examined how the community views the fin-fish aquaculture industry.

The CEO of the Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association, Dr Adam Main said the industry is overwhelmingly respected and supported by the Tasmanian community and has a social license.

“87% of the respondents have either a positive or neutral attitude towards the industry, while 92% consider that; “farmed salmon has significant economic benefits for the State” and that; “salmon farming provides important training and employment opportunities for local communities”.

“As an industry we are pleased with the level of support throughout the community, and how the majority of respondents want it to grow.” Dr Main said.

Dr Main added “when the 600 participants were asked to rate the importance of several Tasmanian industries, the aquaculture industry recorded the third highest net importance score of 93, with 96% of respondents in total stating that they viewed the industry as important to Tasmania, 62% of whom stated very important”.

“Close to three quarters of respondents (74% in total) were in support to some degree of the expansion of the salmon farming industry.

“Among respondents who regarded the aquaculture industry as important to Tasmania, the most frequently given reason was that it “generates jobs/ employment” (32%)”. Dr Main said.

One in ten respondents (10%) supported the expansion “as long as it is regulated/ controlled”, with a further 7% stating “if the environmental impact is monitored/ studied”.

Dr Main noted 90% of respondents consider that “there should be strong controls on the industry to protect the environment” and said the State Government has recently enacted one of the recommendations of last year’s Senate Inquiry, namely transferring regulation from DPIPWE to the EPA.

“We are, however, concerned that 35% of respondents are worried the industry “creates too much waste and pollutes Tasmanian waterways””.

“The industry is very proud of its environmental record and the efforts it makes to minimise any environmental footprint, and large quantities of sustainability information is made publicly available in real time and in formal reporting”.

“The fact that some people are worried about a perception that is not based on fact, or supported by science means industry can do a better job of communicating our sustainability information.” Dr Main said.

Dr Main noted there were of course people (17%) opposed to the expansion of the industry, the reason cited most frequently was the “environmental impact/ pollution”.

A small proportion stated they were “unhappy with the expansion/ current plans/ locations” (13%), that the industry was “expanding too rapidly/ already enough” (9%), and that it “should go offshore/ further out” (8%).

“Overall we are happy with the level of support for the industry in the community, it shows that Tasmanians see Atlantic salmon products as adding to the state’s reputation.

“It is clear from these findings that the industry has a social licence to keep operating and expand, provided continuing independent regulatory oversight is maintained.” Dr Main said.

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Key supporting facts:

Carrying capacity

We work hard to make sure our farming practices are best placed to ensure the health and wellbeing of our fish and that any environmental impact on our leases is kept to an absolute minimum, but is always at a sustainable level.

Each lease site is different and we use a range of tools to determine how many fish can be farmed in each location.

Carrying capacity management controls include stocking densities and fallowing requirements.

 Nitrogen outputs

We keep our environmental impact to an absolute minimum like all modern farmers.

We work hard to keep the release of nitrogen into the environment to an absolute minimum.

The EPA has strengthened regulatory controls to limit the amount of waste entering the marine environment, including restricting the numbers of smolt that can be placed onto farms, or restricting the total number fish within a lease.

 Chemical usage and impacts

We are proud of the fish we produce, they are very healthy and well looked after.

Very few chemicals are used on marine sites.

Industry members must comply with marine farming management controls and licence conditions relating to chemical usage and impacts, including the requirements of the Agriculture and Veterinary Chemicals (Control of Use) Act 1995.

 Use of antibiotics and colourings in farmed fish (adverse impacts for consumers)

We are proud of the health and wellbeing of our fish and they are always treated under veterinary supervision.

Like everyone, we keep antibiotic use to an absolute minimum, their use is rare and limited to single isolated health issues.

All treated fish are subject to lengthy withdrawal periods to ensure that there are no antibiotics in their system. The industry makes information regarding antibiotic use publicly available as per Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certification requirements.

 Waste, effluent and odour

We are very proud of Tasmania’s clean green reputation, it’s what makes the state stand out from the rest of the world.

Tasmania has some of the best environmental regulations in the world and we fully support them.

We implement specific strategies to mitigate potential odour impacts including appropriate storage and transport of stock mortalities.

We put a great focus on ensuring that the performance and management of our wastewater treatment plants are in line with all regulatory requirements.

 Disease spreading from farmed fish to wild fish

Like all farmers, we continually monitor our stock and do all we can to keep them healthy and disease free.

We implement effective measures aimed at minimising the spread of pathogens and any potential impact on native fish populations.

 Adequacy and impacts of marine farming equipment

We do not want any farm debris entering the environment.

The industry employs dedicated teams to manage any loss of equipment.

 Escape of farmed fish into the wild

No farmer wants to lose stock, that’s why we have developed the best pens in the world.

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) Salmon standard also includes compliance criteria for fish escapes.

 Predator control and mortality of wildlife, especially fur seals and birds

All farmers try to stop wild animals interacting with their stock through fencing and other measures.

The Aquaculture industry is the same, over the years our pens have been developed to prevent seals from entering.

ASC certified industry members make information regarding any lethal incidents of seals and birds publicly available within 30 days as per requirements under the ASC Salmon standard.

 Local community visual, noise and amenity impacts

We work hard to keep any noise disturbance to a minimum, carrying out regular sound level testing to make sure farms are within mandated levels.

Likewise with visual appearance, salmon farms are regulated with respect to colour and height of infrastructure.

 Adequacy of reporting on all these issues

We strongly believe that reporting environmental information in a way that can be easily accessed by the public is vital.

Under the ASC standard, there is a requirement for transparency of farm-level performance data.

This information is made publicly available in ASC audit reports and on the ASC dashboard of each company’s website. Certified companies are also required to make an annual data submission to the standard holder (ASC), so that they can track our performance over time and compare our metrics on a global scale.

Each marine farming lease has specific management and reporting criteria allocated through both specifications in Marine Farming Development Plans and individual lease and licence conditions.

 Adequacy of laws and the State Government compliance regime

We absolutely agree that the Tasmanian salmon industry needs to be regulated to ensure it’s sustainability and viability, and it is, by the EPA and state and federal legislation. In fact it is one of the most strongly regulated in the world.

 Health management and biosecurity

Like all modern farmers we are dedicated to the health of our stock, each company has a dedicated fish health team with specialist vets. The industry maintains a high level of communication about fish health through various working groups.

The Industry operates within the Tasmanian State Biosecurity Plan. An Industry TSGA Biosecurity Management Plan has also been developed with industry members.

 Recreational Fishing

We work hard to minimise the impact on members of the community and we are in regular consultation with state recreational fishing groups.