Tasmanian Salmonid Growers Association

Seals and salmon farming- some facts

September 13, 2016

The industry’s commitment

The salmon industry is committed to managing seal interactions in and around our marine sites in a humane and proactive manner. Our main strategy is to improve exclusion methods and standard operating procedures that discourage seals from entering our pens.

The TSGA’s members maintain a high standard of seal management through staff training, education and system developments. The industry has management systems in place to ensure interactions are handled to the highest standard to reduce where practical, any negative impacts to seals interacting within farming operations.

Do seals affect salmon farms?

Seals are strong predators that occasionally prey on the salmon in a salmon farm. If they interact with a farm, they can tear holes in nets or actually enter the net itself to eat the salmon. This poses a risk to the marine farm staff. Seal numbers have been increasing around the State of Tasmania and all members of the fisheries sector have been experiencing increasing problems with seal interactions.

How are predators deterred from a salmon farm site?

A common method to deter predators is to use exclusion infrastructure and good on-farm management practices. Heavy weighting of the nets, the use of heavier gauge or semi rigid nets and stitching down “seal proof bird nets” are all used to deter seals. Salmon farmers can obtain permission from DPIPWE to relocate problem seals. Seal deterrents of several varieties have been used with varying degrees of success.

In addition, where possible, marine farming zones and leases are assessed and located to minimise interaction with wildlife and impact on important habitat.

Does the salmon industry kill seals?

The industry is committed to passive seal deterrents and implements new technology year on year in the form of stronger nets, new net designs, higher handrails, top nets and weighting systems. We continue to investigate and trial exclusion and deterrent technology and a tremendous amount of information on seal interactions can be found on company websites and in their annual reporting.

The industry has significantly improved exclusion technology and implemented many other aspects of seal management across numerous farming zones. Our focus remains on minimising our interaction with seals that have territorialised marine farm sites, and increasingly threaten and are aggressive to staff.

The very last resort is to euthanise a problem animal that is repeatedly entering the pens and acting aggressively towards staff.  There is a very clear protocol in place for this action and the seal can only be humanely euthanised by a licensed veterinarian. This is a very rare occurrence, strictly regulated by the State.

Are the kills of seals by salmon farmers negatively affecting their populations?

The primary species of marine mammals that are a problem for salmon farms are Australian Fur seals. The population of this species has been increasing over the past few years.

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