Press Releases
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  • Government releases draft Ten Year Salmon Plan

The Tasmanian Government has released the draft Ten Year Salmon Plan, without completing all their promised community consultation. NOFF’s President, Peter George, said:

The state government’s ten-year Atlantic salmon plan marks a complete capitulation by the Rockliff government to the foreign-owned industry giving it what it wants, where it wants. The plan amounts to a free gift to the salmon barons – more public waterways further offshore while maintaining everything they have been gifted in coastal, shallow waters.

The Plan totally fails to address the most pressing issue in the industry’s operations: moving open-net feedlots out of protected, shallow and vulnerable waterways. It also fails to incentivise the most important move the industry could make to protect Tasmania’s marine life and coastal communities – moving the industry into land-based production as is evolving globally.

Killora Community Association spokesperson, Gerard Castles, says there is nothing in the plan to reassure Bruny Island residents or to dissuade them from actions planned next year to demonstrate community outrage.

George and Castles say the community campaign to rid Tasmanian waters of polluting salmon feedlots will step up over the next few months.

  • Legislative Council Finfish Enquiry Report

The recent report from the Tasmanian Legislative Council Finfish Enquiry is a devastating analysis of pretty well every aspect of salmon farming. It calls for the removal of pens from our coasts and rivers, and a halt to expansion without genuine research. You can download the report here and also check out our submission (it’s number 41 on the list) – more to come soon!

  • Four Corners on JBS

ABC-TV Four Corners has eviscerated JBS, the Brazilian Butchers who now own Huon Aquaculture, in an episode on April 25.

Bought with the proceeds of overseas crime, our salmon industry is now in the hands of savage corporations who care nothing for our waterways and marine life and who care only for profit.

This program questions how the Australian meat industry – and increasingly now the salmon industry – came to be dominated by a Brazilian multinational that is a byword for international corruption on an industrial scale.

It also asks why state and federal politicians roll over when JBS comes to town – begging the question, if JBS can be discovered overseas bribing no less than 1,800 legislators, if its owners have spent time in jail for corruption, if it is accused of undermining US national interests through its activities, then what are our own politicians gaining by backing this corrupt multinational?

Here is a brief extract – you can watch the whole show on ABC-TV’s iView – or Google Four Corners JBS.

  • Calls for the Tasmanian government to ban the use of explosives to scare seals in Bass Strait

The Tasmanian Government has launched a so-called research project on aquaculture in Bass Strait, in Commonwealth waters off Burnie. The Federal Government has agreed that Tasmania can manage the application and regulation of pollution, wildlife protection and other standards in Commonwealth waters. The project will be managed by Blue Economy CRC, which is funded substantially by the Government and salmon industry.

Conservationists are now calling for the State Government to ban the use of explosives (“seal crackers” and bean bag shotgun pellets). These devices cause seals much distress, and there have been cases of deaths, deafness and blindness because of them – read more here.

  • Billboard Campaign

The billboard campaign continues to alert everyone on the mainland of the issues caused by the farmed feedlot salmon industry. Here is a video news report on the latest situation (57mb MP4), and here are links to a short video suggesting what you can do to help: Eating salmon (low resolution) or Eating salmon (high resolution).

Here is a link to a Facebook video of NOFF’s public meeting in the Cygnet Town Hall, Saturday 18 September, and here is a link to YouTube. Must watch!

  • Existence of secret maps confirmed, NOFF calls on the Government to come clean

The existence of secret maps – denied by government for weeks – that identify areas of Tasmania’s coastline suitable for industrial salmon production has been confirmed at a webinar of scientists.

To see the maps, click here for map 1 showing the grow and no grow zones the industry disliked (one page, JPG), here for map 2 showing areas considered suitable for expansion (one page, JPG), here for map 3 showing areas considered suitable for expansion as technology increases (one page, JPG), and all three maps side by side here (one page, PDF).

Speaking at a webinar of the Independent Science Council of Tasmania on Sept 20, 2021, Associate Professor Ross, an ecologist and expert on the environmental impacts of salmon farming, acknowledged the maps revealed by NOFF last week are genuine and represented an “important first stage” in looking at a range of water uses.

He said the purpose of the maps was to “develop a tool that can be used by government and might be used to inform decision making about grow and no grow zones for salmon farming.”

His comments confirm not only the existence of the maps but their potential use to allow salmon farming across the entire northern coast of Tasmania and on much of the east coast.

NOFF has challenged the government to release the original maps for all Tasmanians to see.

  • Calling it out: Misleading claims about salmon hatcheries demolished

A recent article in The Mercury, Hobart, (Aug 29, 2021) headed “Don’t Blame Fish Farms for Ruined Rivers” reported claims that salmon hatcheries have at worst minimal impact on Tasmanian waterways.

One of Australia’s most eminent water scientists, Professor Peter Davies AM, puts that claim to the sword. Professor Davies has an international reputation and consults globally including to the US EPA, the European Union and the Murray Darling Basin Authority. He is adjunct professor at UTas and was honoured with the AM in 2012 “For service to conservation and the environment as a contributor to national water policy development and through research of Australia’s rivers and waterways’.

Read his rebuttal here (3 pages, PDF) and supporting statements by two other leading scientists here (2 pages, PDF)

  • Huon Aquaculture Takeover – TAMP and NOFF call on Tasmanian Government to stand up to rogue multinational

TAMP and NOFF today called on Tasmanian Premier Gutwein to reassure Tasmanians after plans to sell salmon producer Huon Aquaculture to a Brazilian multinational with a reputation for corruption were revealed at night on Friday.

The multinational JBS has a shocking track record of corrupt practices, tax evasion and accusations of circumventing environmental regulations in the Amazon rainforest. In Tasmania, JBS already has a reputation for taking subsidies in the meat industry from government with one hand, while closing meat works and sacking workers with the other. Its track record overseas is even more shocking, including a $US280 million dollar fine for bribery in the United States, tax evasion charges and circumventing environmental laws in the Amazon rainforests to “greenwash” cattle grown in illegal clearings.

Mr Gutwein needs to reassure Tasmanians that regulations, enforcement and penalties will all be reviewed and tightened immediately while the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will be given all the resources to police what is already a rogue industry. Huon Aquaculture’s major shareholders, Peter and Frances Bender, have always claimed they put Tasmania and its workers ahead of all else, and now should explain why they’re abandoning them to a rapacious multinational that cares not a jot for the state, for its workers or for its environment.

Until the industry gets out of the water and on to land – as is happening with increasing speed everywhere but in Australia – TAMP and its many affiliates will continue to call out the industry, government and regulators.

Read the full text of the press release (2 pages, PDF) here.

  • Is salmon farming on land viable?

The industry says no, but does not provide any evidence for their exaggerated cost and energy claims. Here is a simple analysis of the current situation, showing how land-based aquaculture is increasing around the world (4 pages, PDF).

  • Number of harmful algal blooms strongly correlated with intensified aquaculture production

That’s the conclusion of 109 scientists reporting to UNESCO after spending seven years analysing almost 10,000 harmful algal blooms that have occurred over the past 33 years. They report:

The number of recorded harmful algal bloom events over time was strongly correlated with intensified aquaculture production in all regions with data suitable for the study.

And if that’s not enough to pause the Gutwein Government’s plans for a sea grab to drive a massive expansion of the industry, here’s another warning from the UN body: UNESCO says there’s a major gap in our understanding of the way the nutrient-rich filth caused by fish faeces and wasted food creates those poisonous algal blooms.

This huge research project was led by our own Prof. Gustaaf M. Hallegraeff of the University of Tasmania.

  • The salmon industry once again surprises us with another of its health and environmental disasters

Fortunately for Tasmania, this latest disaster in industrial Atlantic salmon production is in Chile. This is what happens when you overstock, push the marine environment to the limit, ignore the warning signs of ocean and climate warming – and just keep expanding in the name of profits over planet. So far more than 2 million kilos of fish have suffocated to death from toxic algae in just a few weeks in Chile. Huon, Tassal and Petuna can’t say they don’t know what’s coming their way.

  • Leading Tasmanian restaurant drops farmed fish from menus

A leading Tasmanian restaurant responds to customer requests and drops Tasmanian farmed fish from its menu – and says other restaurants are doing likewise. Listen to the ABC Radio report (7 mins).

  • EPA emails to Tassal revealed

The scale and cause of the deaths of a large number of farmed salmon in February remain a mystery, with documents obtained by the ABC revealing the director of Tasmania’s environmental watchdog assured the fish producer he “did not provide a detailed or complete response” to questions from the broadcaster.

  • The salmon you buy in the future may be farmed on land

In a series of indoor tanks 40 miles south west of Miami, Florida, five million fish are swimming in circles a very long way from home. The fish in question are Atlantic salmon, which are far more typically found in the cold waters of Norway’s fjords or Scotland’s lochs.

As the species is not native to Florida, and would be unable to cope with the state’s tropical heat, the water tanks are kept well chilled, and housed in a vast, air-conditioned and heavily insulated warehouse-like building. The facility intends to be the world’s largest land-based fish farm. Read on . . . (and all the waste is sold as fertiliser instead of being dumped on the ocean floor).

  • Huon Island is dying

NOFF calls on industrial salmon producers to quit the Huon before it is completely destroyed by their reckless practices and start transitioning to land based salmon production as a matter of urgency.
Releasing a video, NOFF president, Peter George, said the footage clearly shows reefs at Huon Island being killed by algae and marine growth stimulated by toxic nutrient overloads from salmon feeding lots. The video is a joint production of NOFF and TAMP.

  • Shocking footage from Scotland

And here is a link to some extraordinary footage showing what really happens in fish pens, in this case in Scotland (caution: may cause distress).

  • Tasmania missing out

Tasmania is missing out on both economic and environmental benefits from salmon farming in the state, according to the co-chair of the Tasmanian Alliance for Marine Protection, Peter George. “In the latest round of Norwegian auctions for salmon farming licences, 30 Norwegian companies have paid an average of A$34,000 for each tonne of production. This underlines how much Tasmania has to gain if only the state’s politicians had the courage to make Tassal, Huon Aquaculture and Petuna pay the true market price for their leases,” Mr George said. “The industry earns millions each year but returns peanuts to the state”.

Read the full text of the TAMP press release (2 pages, PDF). This was also published by The Advocate (possibly paywalled)

  • NOFF study shows salmon industry and government websites are of little use as sources of information

A recent study by NOFF identifies issues about the usability and content of the websites of the leading players in the Tasmanian salmon farming industry: Tassal, Huon Aquaculture, Petuna, DPIPWE and the EPA. Some of the websites appear on first examination to be quite good examples of modern website design, however each of them has flaws in structure, content and indexing. Taken together, there are inconsistencies in content, indexing and terminology which make it impossible for members of the public to access data on specific aspects of the industry on a state or regional basis, or across time.

  • State of Storm Bay report shows cultural and natural values, gaps in current information

There are serious concerns about the potential impacts of the planned expansion of salmon farming into Tasmania’s Storm Bay, including impacts on the natural, community and economic values of the region. The report identifies these current values, provides an extensive list of references to other sources of information, and calls for an independent State of Storm Bay Report, to ensure that existing information is readily available, major gaps highlighted, and a case made to address these, before any expansion.

  • Environment Tasmania report shows high levels of pollution in Derwent and Florentine headwaters

A scientific report for Environment Tasmania shows high levels of pollution in the headwaters of the Derwent and Florentine rivers, downstream from two salmon hatcheries. It reveals very high nutrient levels in both the outfalls and downstream rivers, ranging from 5 to more than 128 times upstream levels. Significant levels of fouling were also observed on the rocks and river bed downstream. Coliform and E coli bacteria levels in one outfall were extremely high, and there was a strong odour and visible slick in the area.

  • Making mountains out of minnows: Salmon in the Tasmanian economy

The Australia Institute reports that the economic benefit of the salmon industry to Tasmania is weighted strongly against its environmental and social impacts. Yet it accounts for just 1% of jobs in the state.

Over 5 years $3.8 billion worth of fish were sold, but just $64 million tax paid, while $9.3 million in subsidies were received in 2 years. Changing generous leasing arrangements to the Norwegian model could raise $2 billion for community development.

Download our media release (PDF, 2 pages)

  • Few companies follow their own industry standards

In September 2018 Seachoice published a report which reviewed how well the world’s fish farming industry conforms to the standards of its own Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). Their review states that the ASC “responsibly farmed” eco-label is considered the gold Standard of farmed seafood eco-certifications. But our review of ASC certified salmon farms around the world reveals only a small proportion of farms follow the eco-label’s stipulated criteria, yet they are still being certified. Their analysis of Australia (PDF, 6 pages) reveals significant non-conformities with the standard. Their summary recommendation is that It is critical that eco-certifications are leading to genuine changes on the water and not simply rewarding business as usual.

  • Huon Aquaculture gets a (very minor) slap on the wrist for breaking environmental protection rules: a company with revenues of $145 million will have to stump up a mere $40,000 fine for six breaches of Tasmania’s environment protection regulations – one of which included dumping 80,000 litres of contaminated water considered toxic to marine life … on land right beside the Huon River. Read the full text here (2 pages, PDF)
  • Sabotage ruled out: the recent escape of 130,000 salmon from Huon Aquaculture feedlots in Storm Bay was definitely not the result of sabotage, The Tasmanian Alliance for Marine Protection (TAMP) has learned. Government officials have told TAMP that Huon Aquaculture has confirmed there was no sabotage, contrary to implications by CEO, France Bender, in the days after the escape. Read the full press release here (one page, PDF).