The findings of a new report by the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), released today, raises serious concerns about Tassal’s stocking levels in Macquarie Harbour and the shelf life of their controversial Okehampton Bay development, according to Tasmania’s peak environment group.
“New IMAS research shows that over summer in Macquarie Harbour, fish are crowding into just 2 metres of their 17-metre depth pen. Given Tassal are stocking at double the rate of other salmon companies in the harbour, the IMAS findings raise serious concerns about animal welfare standards on Tassal’s farms,” says Laura Kelly, Environment Tasmania.
The IMAS research was funded by Sense-T, a partnership between the University of Tasmania, CSIRO and the Tasmanian Government, and also funded by the Australian Government. It concluded that it is crucial for the aquaculture industry to determine how climate change will impact on their ability to stock heavily in waters experiencing warming temperatures and falling oxygen levels.
“This research provides further scientific evidence that Tassal’s Okehampton Bay development should not proceed. CSIRO described water temperatures of 23 degrees Celsius on Tasmania’s east coast in 2016 as a window into the state’s future. We know salmon experience sub-lethal stresses in water temperatures over 18 degrees Celsius.”
“Pushing into more warm, inshore areas might be saving Tassal a buck on infrastructure, but their Okehampton Bay investment just doesn’t stack up when you consider warming water temperatures. They must be factoring in serious mortalities, but may have failed to price-in the risk of mass fish kills, and consumer rejection of a product coming from a farm that breaches fish welfare conditions,” Ms Kelly said.