The EPA’s determination, released 6 June, “clarifies” the amount of 2016 year class salmon in Tassal’s two operational Macquarie Harbour leases will increase substantially, up to an estimated 42.78 tonnes a hectare.
This is a far cry from the 13 tonnes per hectare that applies to the other salmon companies, and raises serious concerns for local marine impacts under Tassal’s leases.
Beneath the rhetoric of a lower biomass limit in Macquarie Harbour, it appears the EPA’s reference to 13 tonnes of salmon per hectare of leased area is not based on the amount of salmon a particular location in Macquarie Harbour can support. It seems to be an arbitrary number, only used to determine how much of the 12,000 tonnes harbour-wide cap on salmon each of the fish farming companies is allocated.
The EPA’s decision for Tassal’s allowable salmon amount for the 2016 year class considered the total leasable area for all three leases, called 214, 219 and 266. Tassal’s biggest lease, Franklin 266, has, however, been declared “a dead zone” and is no longer available.
Tassal’s 3,639 tonnes of salmon will be squeezed into just two operating lease sites, at an estimated density of 19.9 tonnes a hectare. To make matters worse, the 19.9 tonnes per hectare is without the additional allocation provided to Tassal if they string tarpaulins under their cages.
The government’s new decision states that Tassal can stock, if tarped, the combined area of all three of their leases – no. 214, 219 and 266 – with 28 tonnes of salmon for every hectare.
The problem is that lease 266, the infamous Franklin Lease, is not available. This will mean the increased allocation will be squeezed into Tassal’s two operating lease sites, at up to 42.78 tonnes per hectare.
This appears to be an incredibly high localised stocking density that poses significant environmental risks at both lease sites in a fragile marine environment.
It seems the EPA has determined the total amount of salmon the harbour can support with little thought for localised impacts at individual lease sites. The Director of the EPA needs to explain how this massive increase in salmon volume in Tassal’s two operating lease sites will not cause huge damage to marine animals as a matter of urgency.
Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens’ Marine Environment spokesperson