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Australia Tasmanian salmon industry enlists business partners for fightback campaign

22:06  30 november  2021
22:06  30 november  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Tasmania's salmon industry is worth around $1bn a year and industry groups say it employs around 12,000 people.  (Supplied: Tassal) © Provided by ABC Business Tasmania's salmon industry is worth around $1bn a year and industry groups say it employs around 12,000 people.  (Supplied: Tassal)

In its first unified move to counter anti-fish farm campaigns, business leaders connected to the Tasmanian salmon industry have formed an alliance to talk up its importance as an employer and a contributor to the state's economy.

The Spectran Group's Mark Hindmarsh does environmental monitoring for the fish farm industry and has signed up to the Tasmanian Farmed Salmon Alliance.

"Unfortunately a lot of the negative comments around are broadly misinformed," he said.

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"I think if people took the opportunity to understand what these businesses do and how we work together to achieve the greater good there'd be a more positive outcome from it."

The alliance has been organised by Tasmania's three major salmon producers — Tassal, Huon and Petuna — and a few key stakeholders.

Over the last three decades the value of Tasmania's salmon industry has grown to around $1 billion and there are plans to double that by 2030.

But the burgeoning local sector has not been without controversy.

In 2017, it was revealed high stocking limits at Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast had created a 'dead zone' around a Tassal lease.

Tasmania's largest fish farmer was forced to destock the Franklin lease and the EPA slashed the harbour's overall stocking limit.

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Later that year locals launched an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to oppose new fish farming leases at Okehampton Bay on Tasmania's east coast.

Alliance insists local industry is 'world class'

Earlier this year, Booker Prize-winning author Richard Flanagan — who owned a shack on Bruny Island close to several fish farming leases — released the book Toxic, which accused the industry of polluting pristine Tasmanian waterways and the state government of regulatory failure.

In a statement to the stock exchange in August, Tassal conceded the book had been "unsettling to the industry", and in state parliament primary industries minister Guy Barnett referred to "dark forces" trying to bring the sector down.

John De Bruyn, general manager of logistics company De Bruyn's Transport, said a big part of the alliance's job would be highlighting the importance of the industry as a regional employer in Tasmania.

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"We think [the alliance] is a fantastic initiative to try and get those positive messages out and dispel some of the misinformation," he said.

"I've been involved in this industry for 10 years now and I've been to Norway and Canada and have done extensive research into how their industries are run.

"I can tell you we can be proud of what we're doing here in Tasmania. It's world class."

Mr De Bruyn said on any given day about 20 per cent of his 250-strong labour force worked directly in the fish farming sector — delivering fish feed to fish at sea, maintaining equipment, transporting fish around or working in the warehouse.

Alliance member David Whyte, who runs the BioMar fish feed production plant at Wesley Vale, said fish farming now employed around 12,000 Tasmanians.

"We develop people, we skill them up and it's a fantastic and rewarding job," he said.

"We want the alliance to help people understand the industry offers them a fantastic future and not just them but their children, too."

Anti-fish farm campaigners urge boycott

On the same day at Hobart's Town Hall, an anti-fish farm group called Neighbours of Fish Farming launched a campaign to get Australia's major supermarkets to pull farmed Tasmanian salmon off their shelves.

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The group told the gathering a petition calling for an immediate moratorium on increased production had already gathered 35,000 signatures.

Bruny Island resident and actor Essie Davis said consumers needed to push supermarkets to change their minds about salmon.

"We need to stand up and make all our voices heard around this island," she said.

"This is what you can do. Don't buy salmon. Tell your friends not to buy salmon. Tell restaurants and pubs and sushi bars they shouldn't have it on their menu. Because buying salmon is killing Tasmania."


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