Salmon farming in Circular Head

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Report. A report released last week by the Circular Head Regional Economic Development Working Group has identified the potential for salmon farming in the north west.

The report has been met with mixed response.

Minister for Primary Industries and Water Jeremy Rockliff says Circular Head, in particular Three Hummock Island, and King Island have been identified as grow zones under the Sustainable Salmon Industry Growth Plan set to be released in the coming months.

He added Petuna Aquaculture has indicated a desire to explore the prospects of salmon farming in the area.

In an industry strictly controlled by the Environment Protection Authority, salmon farming currently supports more than 5200 jobs in Tasmania.

Petuna has received an environmental monitoring permit to explore the potential for expansion in the north west and is committed to extensive local consultation as part of the preliminary investigation process, says Mr Rockliff.

“The [plan] will look at all aspects of the industry, from hatchery to harvest and processing, and will consider research and development, biosecurity and regulation, as well as future planning.

“The plan will also include no grow zones like the banning of salmon farm expansion beyond the existing Okehampton Bay lease into the Mercury Passage area of the east coast.

“The Tasmanian government wants the community to have confidence in this world class industry, which is why we significantly strengthened penalties and regulations and why we put the independent Environment Protection Authority in charge of all aspects of environmental control of the industry.”

Stanley resident Matthew Morgan, who has more than 45 years of experience in the industry, says the proposal will be detrimental for the region’s waters in that it does not support sustainable practices.

“Salmon farms kill off everything,” he says, referring to Macquarie Harbour and Dover as examples.

“Any fish that is known to be a juvenile in the channel – king george, whiting, seahorses, flathead – anything that is still in its nursery stage will be killed off.

“In five years’ time we will have lost all juvenile marine life and in 10 years time it will be a desert.”

Mr Morgan says he would not oppose the introduction of new industries, especially those which support economic growth and increase employment opportunities, however believes it is crucial this is achieved sustainably.

He praised the contributions of Petuna Aquaculture to the industry but says the north west is not a viable area for expansion. 

“I have no issues with Peter and Una Rockliff, they have been industry leaders all their life and it is one of the success stories that as fishermen we are very proud of.”

Mr Morgan has launched a petition to stop the process and says he has already approached a number of politicians and will continue to lobby the issue.

“I hope that our government will show some good leadership and realise this area is far too sensitive to even be considered for this.

“I feel once we have a little momentum and a few more signatures (this could go somewhere).

“Let’s rally, gain the support we need and do what is necessary to make sure this is stopped.”

To view the petition go to www.tinyurl.com/y9mj2bp7

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