15th November 2016
The media release today from the Director of the EPA in relation to benthic compliance issues in Macquarie Harbour for four leases, is testimony to the robustness of the existing regulation and science underpinning that regulation. We confirm that one of those leases with benthic compliance issues is Tassal’s Franklin lease. We also confirm that Tassal is farming within its allocated maximum allowable biomass across all its leases in Macquarie Harbour. Our benthic compliance is fully disclosed in our annual Sustainability Reports, in our publically available ASC audit reports and in our Mac Harbour summary document http://www.tassal.com.au/sustainability/our-environment/#ecological-interactions
Macquarie Harbour was amended for additional salmon production in 2013 with adaptive management in mind and this is an example of that adaptive management at work. Macquarie Harbour is a difficult system to predict and early warnings through extended compliance monitoring and increased monitoring frequency has allowed Tassal to react responsibly and swiftly to the changing environment.
Tassal will continue to adaptively manage all its leases within Tasmania. In fact, Tassal began reducing our fish input into Macquarie Harbour in 2014 as well as taking further steps to destock our Franklin lease prior to the EPA notification. Since 2014, Tassal has reduced its input by 20% into Macquarie Harbour. In addition, Tassal will continue to invest in further science to better understand the remediation profile of our sites to better forecast appropriate, future stocking strategies for the Harbour.
The benthic non-compliances are a result of an extended period of low, bottom water dissolved oxygen (DO). Low DO in bottom water slows down the assimilation of salmon waste. Salmon waste impacts are well understood to be localised, temporal and reversible. Visible benthic impacts are an early indicator of benthic health issues but do not have an impact on fish welfare or oxygen available to our stock. External environmental conditions and unusual weather patterns contributed to the low DO levels in the harbour as continually reported; stocking numbers on site combined with these low DO’s led to a localized effect of poor waste assimilation. Tassal strives for full compliance in every region it operates and is committed to maintaining our ASC certification in Macquarie Harbour and thus will manage our sites accordingly.
To view the EPA press statement please click here.