Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


‘RTI Confirms Liberals at Behest of Salmon Farming Industry’

*Pic: Plans for fish farms in Okehampton Bay. Marine Protection Tasmania pic

Three years of correspondence between Primary Industries Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, and salmon farming companies, obtained by the Greens through Right to Information, reveal an all too familiar Tasmanian tale.

Far from arm’s length, the tone of most of the correspondence is one of familiarity, bullying and Ministerial acquiescence. The salmon farming industry says ‘jump’ and the Liberals say ‘how high?’.

The RTI confirms the Liberals are at the beck and call of the salmon farming industry, with independent oversight and regulation is almost nonexistent. There are regular references to breaches of regulations, but rarely consequences for industry’s flagrant non-compliances.

In three years of correspondence between Minister Rockliff and the salmon farming companies, the community and marine environment barely rate a mention. It’s certainly not Tasmanians who are winning under the Liberals’ mismanagement of this industry.

Documents from last August confirm plans for Tassal’s expansion into Okehampton Bay were guaranteed from inception, regardless of community concerns or wider marine environmental impacts. The industry was always going to get salmon in place at that site from the start.

The RTI documents appear, however, to have omitted key correspondence about the East Coast salmon farm expansion. The first letter from Minister Rockliff to Tassal outlining Terms of Reference for the assessment of Okehampton Bay by the Marine Farm Planning Review Panel, apparently sent on 25 August, is missing.

Surrounding documents suggest Tassal had concerns with how the assessment Terms of Reference had been written, and also refer to agreements made at a meeting between the Premier and Tassal CEO, Mark Ryan.

After a day of intensive emails between his office and Mr Ryan, Minister Rockliff sent a second letter on 26 August 2016 reassuring Tassal the Marine Farming Planning Review Panel would not be tasked with considering amendments to the Marine Farming Plan in the Mercury Passage.

Although separate statutory processes could be used to amend that plan – including assessing the impacts on community and other industries – Mr Rockliff stated, “this is not in contemplation at this time”.

There’s no hint in any correspondence the Liberals would even consider cracking down on industry practices that jeopardise the environment or long-term interests of other maritime businesses.

This makes a mockery of the Liberals so-called ‘tough regulation’ of the salmon farming industry, and exposes them as run by industry, for industry.

** RTI Documents can be found here: http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/about-the-department/governance-policies-and-legislation/rti-disclosure-log

• Richard Kopf in Comments: The Okehampton Fish Farm will not survive. The so-called scientific assessment has got more holes in it than a Tassal net. It brushes off the threats to the installation such as the presence of regular blooms of A.tamarense on the East coast of Tasmania. These toxic blooms destroyed not only the salmon industry but other fishing on the Island of Chiloe in Chile. Same latitude as the area that Tassal plans to farm on Tasmania’s East Coast …

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Geoffrey Swan

    August 31, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    #25 Maybe Rosalie can offer a comment on the intricacies of the EPA and public oppportunity..

    Or maybe our Environmental Warrior Frances Bender will enter this debate… we did farm pigs but I never did see them fly… well maybe after a Rum or two..

  2. Geoffrey Swan

    August 31, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    #24 Wow.. our daughter who is an accredited teacher in Permaculture and is currently researching indigenous culture… wrote to us only today to tell us that eels are a well known and regarded cure for Asthma…something my wife suffers from.

    Eels coming from Japan.. I need to do some Google. very interesting. I recall a River Cottage episode which showed an eel (dead) nailed to a tree and then pulling the skin off… I know we are off topic but fascinating thank you.

  3. Russell

    August 31, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    Re #23
    Yes, but how does the public know when they can have a say? Some little ad tucked away in an obscure paper that no-one reads?

    Seems maybe you have to be in the know to know? As usual.

  4. Russell

    August 31, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Re #22
    Thank you Geoffrey.

    While working on Cape Barren Island for the Indigenous community there I went to an Aquaculture talk given on Flinders Island. Mostly it catered for the abalone and oyster businesses over there but at the end one of these presenters also did a talk about eels.

    They are almost 100% food efficient (ie: they convert almost 1kg of food into 1kg of weight), they love to be crowded (as they do in the wild), are less prone to diseases, and the fledging industry couldn’t supply enough of them to the world.

    I came away very impressed, and couldn’t understand why everyone else was so engrossed in the other labour and cost intensive aquacultures.

    Also can’t understand why fish farms wouldn’t incorporate their ‘waste’ (I would call it a bonus myself) into crop production as a part of their business either.

    Only problem with eels is you have to buy the elvers or know when and how to harvest some when they make their migration from Japan to Tasmania’s rivers and creeks to grow. That wouldn’t have been a problem on Cape Barren as it was one of the destinations where they gathered.

    Would have been the same in Victoria, particularly in the marsh areas between Werribee and Geelong. Early ‘settlers’ some years used to find mountains of eels rotting next to where the Indigenous people had harvested and feasted on them. This would feed the land and other wildlife whenever there was bumper eel year and the Indigenous clans new how to recycle and rejuvenate the country, otherwise the shallow wetlands could become choked with them and their rotting carcasses. True sustainable farming.

  5. Geoffrey Swan

    August 31, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    #19 Public Consultation.. I can offer this advice sent to me this week from Director EPA in relation to the fact the HAC Lonnavale Fish Farm licence expired yesterday August 31 (which has been renewed without any changes to their previous 10 year licence). Other licences that were up for renewal as at August 31 were 584 Meadowbank Road and MEADOWBANK, 38036 Tasman Highway, Targa,

    “In relation to the legislation, as it is drafted, the EPA Director is required to effectively incorporate existing environmental conditions in the newly issued environmental licence, for which there are no appeal rights by the licence holder.

    This means the EPN issued for Lonnavale will be transferred to an environmental licence maintaining the current conditions. The EPA Director can then vary the licence to add additional conditions, the licence holder then has appeal rights for the changes.

    The provision that allows for the EPA Board to assess the licence changes provides for a statutory assessment process that includes public representations and then appeal rights to representors.

    The matters that the Director must refer to the EPA Board will be dealt with in regulations which cannot be made until the legislation has passed.”

    Hope you can understand this…

  6. Geoffrey Swan

    August 31, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    #20 I have mentioned on a previous post somewhere I had planned Aquaponics – growing 50 trout in a tank and water recirculates through a vegetable patch. Very efficient system. Also building a small cafe where we live and wanted to “fish” my “own trout” from our “own” tank and serve them to customers in the Cafe… sounds easy huh…

    Approximate numbers – $150 for the fingerlings which had to be couriered from New Norfolk (cannot pick up etc), $350+ for a fishing licence and $350+ for a commercial growers licence. I went back to IFS and said, without labour, infrastructure and feed costs each Trout will cost me $17+ before it goes onto the plate (and that is assuming all 50 survive to plate size) – that is not going to work. And they agreed with me.

    Suffice to say this project is not yet happening. Maybe I should consider eels..? Now farmed rabbits.. that is a another story but they will deliver wheelbarrow loads of poop every few days!!

  7. Geoffrey Swan

    August 31, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    #19 Thanks for your ongoing interest Russell – I had to obtain this information through the RTI process at my personal financial cost. Very pleased to share it. All of these are either antiquated no longer considered best practice “flow through” hatcheries or a combination to also include “recirculating (RAS)”. The exceptions being HAC and Tassal in Judbury and Ranelagh which are only RAS with a requirement of no waste discharge into the immediate environment.

    The New Norfolk site, built by the government for some $8m in order to breed fish to be released into Tasmania waters for recreational fishing was to my understanding a failure. It is now leased to the Huon Aquaculture Company. So IFS who issue these licences are also in a financial arrangement with HAC – just a slight conflict of interest I would think.

    Snowy Range is currently destocked – taken their appeal to Tribunal Court over the EPA serving them an EPN.. been about 18 months now.

    Huon Aquaculture Company
    2 Main Road, BRIDPORT Hurst Creek
    Headquarters Road, SOUTH SPRINGFIELD Great Forester
    584 Meadowbank Road, MEADOWBANK River Derwent
    Russell River Road, LONNAVALE Russel River
    1560 Upper Esk Road, UPPER ESK South Esk
    Forest Home, JUDBURY Huon River (recirculation)

    32 Lake Dobson Road, NATIONAL PARK Tyenna River
    30 Rookwood, RANELAGH Huon River (recirculation)
    1358 Gordon River Road, WESTERWAY Tyenna River
    Dawson Road, BROAD RIVER, CLUNY LAGOON Broad River

    155 Burlington Road, CRESSY Brumbys Creek

    289 Wayatinah Road, WAYATINAH River Derwent
    675 Florentine Road WAYATINAH Florentine River
    Mountain Stream
    38036 Tasman Highway, Targa St Patricks River

    Snowy Range
    33662 Dennison Road, LITTLE DENISON RIVER Little Denison River

    41 Degrees South
    323 Montana Road, RED HILLS Western Creek

    Atkinson Aquaculture
    52 Greta Road, NATONE Ellis Creek

    Inland Fisheries Service
    17 Back River Road, NEW NORFOLK River Derwent (recirculation)

    Jump onto Google Maps and see for yourself.

  8. Russell

    August 31, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Re #17
    A few years ago I was actually considering growing eels in tanks for myself and constantly flushing the water over my paddocks well away from any water course. Would have been a very good organic fertiliser I would think.

    I suppose it all depends what you feed them?

  9. Russell

    August 31, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Re #17
    Please do put the list up. Have the public been consulted openly and given a voice about these?

  10. Geoffrey Swan

    August 31, 2017 at 2:06 pm

    The Huon Aquaculture Fish Farm in Lonnavale – “no longer best practice” says Director EPA Wes Ford and Director IFS John Diggle


  11. Geoffrey Swan

    August 31, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    #14 There are 14 similar flow through hatcheries happening across Tasmania – maybe a river near you hidden away from prying eyes. I can publish a list if anyone is interested.

    Director EPA again agreed with me this week they are no longer best practice – but no plans to make any changes anytime soon. Director IFS has previously made the same statement to me.

    They are in the business of fish Phill and I can only assume deviations into fertiliser or even Aquaponics is not their core business and for as long as they can get away with it- why bother i guess.

  12. Chris

    August 31, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Then the Minister said redacted redacted redacted, just like there is nothing to see here Ferguson, you are getting more beds redacted redacted redacted.
    The minister for Elf (at the Bottom of your garden) does not tell anything about “Why Tasmanians are happy to eat food laced with antibiotics and herbicides, artificial colouring and sundry other unknown chemicals, the rest of the world is not.”Its redacted redacted redacted.
    Bring out the donation books -redacted redacted redacted.
    What a bunch of redacted redacted redacted.

  13. Russell

    August 31, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Re #13
    Thanks for that information Geoffrey.

  14. philll Parsons

    August 31, 2017 at 11:17 am

    #13. I am surprised that a flow through hatchery still exists. The waste has a value and harvesting it is an add-on as a fertilizer.

  15. Geoffrey Swan

    August 30, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    #11 Russell, I have spent a hard and intense 9 years looking at the happenings of the Huon Aquaculture Company practices with respect to their freshwater hatchery in Lonnavale and I cannot agree with your comment at all. I have evidence of deceit and wrongdoing by this company. I have evidence of Frances Bender making grandiose promises in a public forum then reneging on the promises when it was pursued in private.

    I am right at this moment reading through their Annual Environmental Management Review 2016 for their Lonnavale Hatchery and it is so full of holes I cannot understand how or why this report has been accepted at face value by the EPA – unless there is some other agenda which is way above my pay grade.

    HAC and the EPA recently presented information to the HVC who at my request started to pursue the matter of their pollution to the Russell River back in March. The information that subsequently came back to me from the HVC is totally incorrect and concocted by someone. I have asked direct questions to the HVC about matters arising from that meeting, HVC refused my questions and I was referred back to the EPA. Director EPA Wes Ford wrote to me this week and has refused to answer the same direct questions and for a copy of any of the test results, I have been referred once again to the RTI process at my personal cost and at more delay. It has taken me 4 months to get to this point on that single matter alone.

    Something stinks big time. And today, August 31st 2017, the 10 year licence of this antiquated fish farm expires and despite much effort in the past 4 weeks I have failed to get the regulator or Inland Fishing Service and Inland Fisheries Advisory Council to accept it is time to place more stringent conditions on this site to stop them polluting this once pristine river. It is highly likely the authorities will today (if not already) simply sign off on another 10 year licence to allow them to continue doing what this industry does very well (IMV) – and that is to continue to wreak havoc on the environment and totally disregard any other users of our waterways.

    The only slight glimmer of hope was that HAC made a statement in their March 2017 report that further ongoing monitoring of their sewerage outfall into the Russell was a waste of time and money and should no longer be required because “all is well” with the operations of their antiquated flow through hatchery. EPA Director Ford confirmed to me yesterday this has not been accepted and their EPN will remain as is.

    Following much contact with the Hodgman government over this now 10+ year issue Director EPA also confirmed to me this week that he has been directed by the Minister to undertake an independent catchment study for this fish farm and the surrounds. Probably another 12 months delay, yet more cost to our government unless they can find a way to get HAC to pay the invoice…but small steps in the right direction.

    If Frances Bender was truly an Environmental Warrior as has been proclaimed – she would spend the $1 million estimated to upgrade from this “no longer best practice” into a sealed recirculating system with zero discharge to the environment and end this polluting mess for once and for all. Small change to their recent reported after tax profit of $42.2m (Huon News) or $28m (Mercury)… whatever, Huon Aquaculture are no longer a small family business. They are playing with the big boys now and it is time for them to grow up and accept that their impact on our environment will be the demise of this industry unless they listen and act now.

  16. TV Resident

    August 30, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    In my opinion none of the farmed salmon, it doesn’t matter which label it wears, they are all pumped up with antibiotics. They would have to be with the pens being so overcrowded and just not worth the risk of eating with so many ‘superbugs’ now beating antibiotics within our society.

  17. Russell

    August 30, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Re #9
    More honest and ethical than the rest of them though, and that’s my point.

    Re #10
    Are the Fearoe Island pens in more open water, rather than sheltered bays?

    You would think they would be cleaner where the tides flushed them out properly each day, rather than swirl around in a bay to settle pretty much where they are excreted (in everyone else’s playground).

  18. Richard Kopf

    August 30, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    The Okehampton Fish Farm will not survive.
    The so-called scientific assessment has got more holes in it than a Tassal net. It brushes off the threats to the installation such as the presence of regular blooms of A.tamarense on the East coast of Tasmania. These toxic blooms destroyed not only the salmon industry but other fishing on the Island of Chiloe in Chile. Same latitude as the area that Tassal plans to farm on Tasmania’s East Coast.
    The only location in the world that could be regarded as achieving “World’s best Practice” is the Faeroe Islands, a far cry from Tassal’s feeble efforts.
    While Tasmanians are happy to eat food laced with antibiotics and herbicides, artificial colouring and sundry other unknown chemicals, the rest of the world is not.
    Google: Salmon disaster in Chloe, Scotland, then see how the Faeroes farm healthy, antibiotic free, salmon.

  19. Geoffrey Swan

    August 30, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    #8 “only buy from the one bringing legal action against the polluters and the useless EPA”.

    They, being Huon Aquaculture (Frances Bender), are no different from the others Russell. Same antibiotics, same canthaxanthin and astaxanthin.. maybe different feed supplier following their recent legal action.

  20. Russell

    August 30, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Re #5
    Anti-biotics only work for so long, then they’re useless and it’s open slather for super-diseases. Same for herbicides, pesticides, etc.

    Re #6
    I certainly check now that this has all come to light, and only buy from the one bringing legal action against the polluters and the useless EPA.

    I also make sure I tell my friends and relatives why.

  21. John Powell

    August 29, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    Will Hodgman, you had better call the election in October as Jack Lumber predicted some time ago on another post, else ALL the details will be revealed and you will be #goneski. No wonder @Brooksy4Braddon disagrees with the seal immigration.

  22. Steve

    August 29, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    I still recall being in a Melbourne restaurant and overhearing another table checking whether the Tasmanian wine they were drinking came from a Gunn’s owned vineyard.
    To me the question wasn’t as surprising as the revelation that the waiter was able to immediately answer correctly. It could easily come to pass that diners start to ask where their salmon came from. It’s a luxury item; public perception is very important.

  23. Geoffrey Swan

    August 28, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    #2 Please do not be fooled by the “Environmental Warrior” claim being espoused by Frances Bender”.

    #I don’t disagree TVR… but the knockers on TT (such as TGC for example) against anyone who speaks up about the truths in Salmon farming.. such as Dr Woodruff… are going to want more evidence than your comment. We need some insiders to speak up. We need some core evidence about antibiotic use – the last that I am aware was the revelations by Dr David Suzuki about the antibiotic imports into Tasmania by this industry. Though we have had an acceptance I recall that they will only use antibiotics if they need to.. this is a step forward I guess from their initial outright denial.

    And as more is revealed and uncovered…there will be more people voting with their feet like you and me.

  24. Russell

    August 28, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    Is anyone in Government related to any of these fish farming companies? There’s usually a catch between Government and where all the favours go.

  25. TV Resident

    August 28, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    Salmon Farming produces antibiotic laden contaminated fish!!!! I wouldn’t eat this crap if I was starving.

  26. philll Parsons

    August 27, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Remember each of the biggies supported by government, the hydro and the cement and dam construction industries when time was up, Gunns and the pulp mill dreaming overreach, forestry and FSC failure, mining in the Tarkine and the share price and now inshore fish farming exploding like the trick cigar into election issues around the State.

    Tassal will struggle valiantly but the writing is already on the wall. Smart operators would stop bullshitting the public and change the industry. Huon could be one of those left standing.

  27. mike seabrook

    August 27, 2017 at 3:14 am

    highlight all this, bring on the election

    wilmot , the east coast / tas centre electorate will be 2 lib, 2 lab, 1 green.

    now look to bass, do the launceston people want their coastal recreational areas fouled

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