Huon bid to move diseased salmon
AUSTRALIAN salmon farmer Huon Aquaculture has asked the Tasmanian state government for permission to move diseased salmon to another site so they can be safely harvested.
Salmon in Huon’s pens off the east coast of Bruny Island have been dying from pilchard orthomyxovirus (POMV), the virus that killed 1.3 million fish in Macquarie Harbour a few months ago, ABC news reported.
Huon Aquaculture’s David Morehead said the company first found the virus in its fish six weeks ago. He refused to say how many salmon had died from POMV but blamed wild pilchards for spreading it to the captive fish.
The diseased salmon are in some of the same pens that broke in storms in May, allegedly resulting in thousands of fish escaping.
Huon Aquaculture is asking the government for permission to move the fish from Storm Bay to Norfolk Bay. The company has a lease at Norfolk Bay but doesn’t usually farm fish there.
Rival farmer Tassal welcomed Huon’s plans. ‘We were consulted early on on Huon’s need to do this,’ a spokesperson said in a statement. ‘It’s a smart decision from a biosecurity standpoint for the industry. We don’t believe there is any risk posed to our operations.’
However, Tasman mayor Roseanne Heyward said locals on the peninsula were worried it might be an expansion of fish farming by stealth.
‘Will they be coming into Norfolk Bay permanently? What does it mean with the diseased fish? How are we going to deal with this? Who’s looking at it? What environmental impact will it have? Are these fish going to make the local fish diseased?’ she asked.
Morehead said there was no evidence of POMV spreading to most wild fish. Huon Aquaculture hopes to have a vaccine ready to use by next year to protect the salmon from POMV.
Above: Huon’s pens