More West Coast salmon grief

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - NICK CLARK

EN­VI­RON­MENT Tas­ma­nia says Mac­quarie Har­bour is still sub­ject to low oxy­gen lev­els that caused the with­drawal of Pe­tuna Aqua­cul­ture from a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process.

ET di­rec­tor Philip Cocker said the re­sults from the ASC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process high­lighted prob­lems with the har­bour.

“The lat­est ASC au­dit of Pe­tuna leases found sig­nif­i­cant non-com­pli­ance with oxy­gen lev­els be­ing be­low 70 per cent dis­solved oxy­gen at sev­eral leases on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions,” he said. “Pe­tuna has with­drawn from cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for its Mac­quarie Har­bour leases as the find­ings of the com­pli­ance au­dits clearly show ac­cred­i­ta­tion was not go­ing to be granted.”

In May, the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity re­duced har­bour stock lev­els to 9500 tonnes, down from 21,500 tones set in 2016.

Pe­tuna chief ex­ec­u­tive Ruben Al­varez said Pe­tuna had with­drawn from cer­ti­fi­ca­tion af­ter an au­dit in Novem­ber last year showed oxy­gen lev­els be­low re­quire­ments.

He said dis­solved oxy­gen lev­els had since re­turned to nor­mal and con­di­tions in the har­bour were good, but it would take time to en­sure those con­di­tions were sus­tained.

“It is crit­i­cal to establish the long-term health of the marine en­vi­ron­ment be­fore the com­pany will seek to fully re­store its ASC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion,” he said.

“This is one of the recog­nised chal­lenges of farm­ing fish in Mac­quarie Har­bour, which is sub­ject to con­stant nat­u­ral vari­a­tions in the marine en­vi­ron­ment that bring low oxy­gen wa­ter to the sur­face.

“It is im­por­tant to em­pha­sise that this is a nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring event that has noth­ing to do with the way in which we op­er­ate our marine farms.”

The au­dit re­vealed a re­cent escape of 44,800 fish.

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