Tassie fish farmer nets WA ven­ture

Re­port harm to an­i­mals

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - NICK CLARK

HUON Aqua­cul­ture is the lat­est aqua­cul­ture busi­ness to ex­pand in­ter­state, an­nounc­ing a mas­sive in­vest­ment in a yel­low­tail king­fish farm ven­ture off Western Aus­tralia.

Huon Aqua­cul­ture chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Ben­der said a 2200ha site near the Hout­man Abrol­hos Is­lands off Ger­ald­ton in the state’s mid-north had been se­cured.

It fol­lows Tas­sal’s $34 mil­lion in­vest­ment in three prawn farms in North Queens­land.

The di­ver­si­fy­ing of in­vest­ments by the Tas­ma­nian fish farm­ers fol­low in­creas­ing com­mu­nity op­po­si­tion to At­lantic salmon farm ex­pan­sion in Tas­ma­nian wa­ters, es­pe­cially in the wake of the dam­ag­ing Mac­quarie Har­bour over­stock­ing prob­lems.

Mr Ben­der said the Mid West Aqua­cul­ture De­velop- ment Zone would not be used un­til Huon had de­vel­oped a shore base, had set up a nurs­ery and had un­der­taken ex­ten­sive stake­holder and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.

It hopes to have fish in the wa­ter in two years, and even­tu­ally pro­duce 10,000 tonnes of yel­low­tail king­fish a year.

The WA Govern­ment ex­pects the ven­ture to cre­ate more than 100 di­rect jobs by 2022 and by 2030 po­ten­tially more than 3000 di­rect and in­di­rect jobs.

“We are ex­cited to be­gin a new chap­ter as we look towards com­mer­cially farm­ing yel­low­tail king­fish,” he said.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said his state had some of the na­tion’s best aqua­cul­ture growth op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“That is some­thing that Huon has recog­nised with their sub­stan­tial in­vest­ment towards a large-scale yel­low­tail king­fish farm,” he said.

“The zone’s lo­ca­tion off the Ger­ald­ton coast gives Huon ac­cess to in­fras­truc­ture, sup­port ser­vices and freight op­tions that in turn will help cre­ate ad­di­tional in­di­rect jobs.”

Mr Ben­der said the in­vest­ment came af­ter a suc­cess­ful king­fish trial with the NSW De­part­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries in Prov­i­dence Bay.

“The trial has proven that not only is it pos­si­ble to grow king­fish in warm wa­ter, but the fish are an ex­cep­tional qual­ity and grow very well,” he said.

“This, along with Western Aus­tralia hav­ing an abun­dance of suit­able lease space, and be­ing open to in­vest­ment, sig­nals the start of a long and ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tion­ship.”

Mr Ben­der said Huon would take its time to work with the lo­cal govern­ment to iden­tify suit­able lo­ca­tions for the shore base and new nurs­ery.

“We will then in­stall equip­ment on the lease in prepa­ra­tion for our very first batch of Western Aus­tralian-grown king­fish,” he said.

“As this is a green­field zone, we have an un­prece­dented op­por­tu­nity to set up our op­er­a­tions in a way that has strong foun­da­tions in biose­cu­rity, which will safe­guard not only our fu­ture op­er­a­tions, but also those of the nearby farm.”

THE State Govern­ment wants any­one with ev­i­dence of seal de­ter­rents be­ing mis­used by Tas­ma­nian fish farm­ers and caus­ing harm to the marine an­i­mals to make a re­port.

An­i­mal lib­er­a­tionists yes­ter­day called on RSPCA Aus­tralia and the World Wildlife Fund to cut their ties with Tas­ma­nia’s fish farm­ers on the back of claims seals are be­ing harmed by the non­lethal bul­lets fired to scare them away from salmon pens.

DPIPWE doc­u­ments have shown that more than 8700 bean­bag bul­lets had been fired at seals around fish farms in Tas­ma­nia since 2013.

An­i­mal lib­er­a­tionists and the Tas­ma­nian Greens also claimed seals have been shot at close range and blinded.

DPIPWE data shows un­der­wa­ter “crack­ers” are also used to scare the seals away from fish pens.

Bean­bag shots are a plas­tic shot car­tridge con­tain­ing a fabric bag filled with hard pel­lets, and “crack­ers” are an un­der­wa­ter acous­tic explosive that sends out a shock­wave.

An­i­mal Lib­er­a­tion Tas­ma­nia says the RSPCA needs to re­voke or sus­pend its wel­fare ac­cred­i­ta­tion of cer­tain aqua­cul­ture com­pa­nies in light of the prac­tices.

The World Wildlife Fund is also un­der pres­sure to walk away from its spon­sor­ship of Tas­sal. The WWF said it was “deeply con­cerned” about the re­ports and was “hold­ing dis­cus­sions with Tas­sal over its seal and salmon man­age­ment ac­tiv­i­ties”.

In Septem­ber last year, the State Govern­ment stopped fish farm­ers in Tas­ma­nia’s South from re­lo­cat­ing rogue seals to the North-West af­ter an out­cry from fish­er­men.

Greens leader Cassy O’Con­nor said it was time for the Govern­ment to stop the in­dus­try shoot­ing, shock­ing, blind­ing and deaf­en­ing seals.

A govern­ment spokesman said an­i­mal wel­fare was an im­por­tant con­di­tion of applying to use any of the au­tho­rised seal de­ter­rent tech­niques.

“If any­one has in­for­ma­tion in re­la­tion to in­ap­pro­pri­ate use of de­ter­rents or an­i­mal wel­fare con­cerns, I en­cour­age them to re­port it to DPIPWE or the RSPCA for in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said.

The Mer­cury ap­proached RSPCA Aus­tralia for com­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.