- To retain Okehampton Bay as it is, and pursue protection of other pristine East Coast waters so they can continue to be enjoyed by future generations of amateur and commercial fishers and recreational users.
- To ensure the East Coast continues to be an attraction for visitors from all over the world.
- To support innovation by the fin fish industry to make Tasmania a leader in cutting edge practices.
- To encourage investment in land based fish farms, which will employ more locals in the long term.
- To have pride in the East Coast producing healthy farmed fish for local and overseas consumers.
- To share information about the environmental impacts of ocean fish farms in Tasmania and overseas.
- To achieve greater transparency and accountability to the community from elected leaders at all levels of government who are involved in approving any aspect of the expanding fin fish farming industry in Tasmania.
- Tasmania’s salmonid farming companies want to grow their industry to $1billion by 2030. The State Government says it’s currently worth $700million.
- Successive Tasmanian Governments have supported the industry, sighting employment in regional areas as the key reason.
- Four companies grow salmon in coastal waters. They are part of a marine farming industry that pays just over $1million a year in licence and lease fees to use public waters to earn their income.
- The largest company, Tassal, is expanding onto the East Coast by leasing from Spring Bay Seafoods to farm salmon alongside mussels in Okehampton Bay by summer 2018.
- Once fully operational Okehampton Bay will contain 28 sea cages.
- Tassal needs a shore base and plan to build a 165 metre jetty into Spring Bay.
- Tassal also needs fresh water to control gill disease in their fish. They have joined with Glamorgan Spring Bay Council to get a licence to take 1,795,000,000 litres of water from catchments on the usually dry East Coast.
- Tassal is a publicly listed company with three major financial institutions controlling 50% of its shares.
- Okehampton Bay is located on Tasmania’s east coast, near Triabunna.
- The 200 hectare fish farming zone in Okehampton Bay was established in 1998.
- 100 hectares can be used for finfish, shellfish and seaweed.
- The zone is approximately 700 metres from the beach and 500 metres from the cliffs towards Lords Bluff.
- Generations of locals and visitors have fished in the Bay for flathead and rock lobster.
- Recreational boaters use the inshore areas and commercial fishermen use the deeper water as an emergency anchorage.
- Thanks to the goodwill of adjacent land owners, the beach is accessible for swims, picnics and walks.
- An online petition outlining concerns about Tassal’s plan attracted over 1700 signatures in six weeks, and over 300 people signed a paper version.
- Early editions of the petitions were tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament on 26 May 2016.
- In the first seven days after a Facebook page was created in May 2016, 10,000 people visited.
- The Mercury and other newspapers have published letters from concerned citizens since 2014.
- Local radio and television programs have reported community concern.
- 50 people at a public meeting in late April 2016 established a Steering Committee of local residents who formed Marine Protection Tasmania Inc
Lack of Social License
- A ‘social license’ is granted by ‘the community’ and not just ‘leaders’ or ‘representative organisations’.
- The more expansive the social, economic and environmental impacts of a project, the more difficult it becomes to get the social license. Read more.
- ‘The salmon industry uses public waterways, and therefore scrutiny of the industry should be of concern to all Tasmanians’. Read more.
- ‘You have to be able to demonstrate your social licence with facts and figures’ (Mark Ryan, Tassal, acuity magazine, May 2013)
Where are the facts and figures to show that Tassal has a ‘social licence’ to put 28 fish pens in Okehampton Bay, establish a significant shore base nearby and use millions of litres of precious local fresh water?
- “It is a widely acknowledged fact that salmon farming (as previously and currently practised in Tasmania) has a detrimental effect on water quality and substrate characteristics in close proximity to farming operations” (‘Risks to the Tasmanian Abalone and Rock Lobster Fisheries from the Oceanic Expansion of the Salmonoid Industry’, September 2014)
- “Finfish farming has a greater impact on the environment than shellfish farming because of the addition of organic material and fish feed, which results in nutrients in the form of surplus food and excretory products being released to the sediments and waters.” (DPIWE Updated Great Oyster Bay and Mercury Passage Marine Farming Development Plan, 2010)
- At the recent ‘Ocean Acidification Conference 2016’ held in Hobart, five world-wide ‘hotspots’ for water temperature increases were identified. Tasmania’s East Coast was one of the five.
- Oxygen depletion is a well-known outcome of fish farming. Warmer sea temperatures reduce the amount of oxygen that can be absorbed by seawater. In its half-yearly report Huon Aquaculture said, “A hot summer was putting Macquarie Harbour under additional stress, with oxygen levels in the water falling.” (ABC News, 1 March 2016).
Where is the video and documented evidence that salmon farms are not a long term risk to the environment?
- Tourism is the second biggest income provider for the Tasmanian economy, behind processed metals. The seafood industry ranks number 6 and includes all seafood production. Read more.
- The tourism industry relies on our international reputation as the ‘clean green State’.
- “Tasmania will need up to 8,000 extra tourism and hospitality workers if the industry continues to grow as expected” (Daniel Leesong, Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, Mercury, 12 May 2016)
- Many east coast tourism operators are concerned about implications of the Okehampton proposal.
- Tassal says it will employ locals. However the company has also started to cut operating costs and have automated some tasks. “There’s a lot of automation that we’re starting to see the benefits of. We’ve been able to take people out of that process of handling or touching fish.” (Mark Ryan, Tassal, Australian, 12 Feb 2016)
Where is the evidence that Tassal is taking a holistic approach? Are they weighing up any jobs created by this proposal alongside potential job losses in new and existing tourism ventures, professional fishing and community businesses that rely on the recreational boating trade?
We acknowledge the increasing pressures to feed the world’s population. However, at what long term cost to fragile marine ecosystems? There are alternatives to cages in coastal waters.
- Seafood is farmed successfully in other ways within Australia. Read more.
- Overseas investors are putting their money into land based aquaculture. View video.
- Land based technology requires more initial investment than pens in coastal waters, but balanced decision making involves looking at more than the initial costs.
- Land based systems overseas are producing other products, such as fertiliser, which would be beneficial to other landowners.
- Tassal say they have examined closed containment and land based technology and off shore or heavy weather infrastructure and are factoring this into their long term strategic thinking. Read more.
Why can’t governments wanting innovation, and companies looking to the long term, get together and come up with a better solution than fish pens in Okehampton Bay and potentially other East Coast waters?
Sign our Petition!
- We’re calling for a moratorium on all planned expansion of open pen industrial salmon farming in Tasmania until the existing environmental and regulatory failures, lack of social licence and industry relationship with Government has been addressed and rectified with transparent and independent regulation with adequate enforcement and penalties.
- View / sign the Petition
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask for your comments to be passed onto the six Directors on the Tassal Board, as they’re responsible for the strategic direction of the company, wise investments and good governance.
Email the State Government
- Send an email to email@example.com
As Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Mr Rockliff is responsible for marine lease conditions, monitoring through the EPA and issuing a licence to harvest fresh water.
Email local Government
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask that all Councillors of Glamorgan Spring Bay Council be made aware of your views, as the Council needs to approve the shore base facility and is involved in the fresh water licence.