Salmon plan flagged for King Island
TASMANIA’S biggest salmon producer is exploring the potential of farm farming off King Island and Mayor Duncan McFie is both excited and anxious about what it might mean for the community.
Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced this week Tassal had obtained a permit to investigate salmon farming in a 124km2 area off Nine Mile Beach on the island’s east coast, extending 5.5km offshore.
Environment Tasmania and the Tasmanian Greens raised concerns the island’s fishing community, tourism operators and traditional owners had not been consulted about the proposal.
They said the proposal could put the King Island brand at risk.
King Island Mayor Duncan McFie said the council had been talking to Tassal about the idea for three months.
Cr McFie said he had also wanted commercial and recreational fishers to be consulted before any announcement was made because of the debate around the industry.
“That being said, my initial thoughts are that the potential for fish farming off the island is exciting. But of course we need to explore aspects of the proposal,” Cr McFie said.
“I am aware of the debate over fish farming but I, like many others, am not a marine scientist. That is the data we need to analyse before anything goes ahead.”
Cr McFie said fish farming in Bass Strait should mitigate some of the environmental issues seen in Macquarie Harbour on the West Coast, where Tassal has been ordered to fallow some of its growing pens.
Cr McFie said there would be plenty of consultation before a concrete proposal would be presented.
The State Government first said the state’s far North-West and King Island were in the mix for fish farm expansion in August.
Mr Rockliff said Tassal’s interest was good news for the island in terms of infrastructure and jobs.
“King Island is currently moving ahead with strong growth particularly in its tourism sector, and this potential new industry offers a major boost to the economy by providing full-time, year-round work,” Mr Rockliff said.
“If salmon farming does ultimately take place off King Island, residents can be assured that the island’s precious brand will be protected.”
Labor also welcomed news.
“I look forward to the results of what needs to be robust environmental modelling to see if farming salmon in the area identified is both viable and sustainable,” Braddon MP and primary industries spokesman Shane Broad said.
Dr Broad raised the shortage of rental accommodation on King Island. However, Cr McFie said Tassal was aware of the issue.
Greens’ marine environment spokeswoman Rosalie Woodruff labelled Mr Rockliff’s announcement a “desperate attempt to create fictional jobs in his home electorate of Braddon.”
“In his hasty celebration, Minister Rockliff’s failed – again – to talk to the local community about the impacts it will have on their lives, livelihoods and environment,” Ms Woodruff said. the