Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Tracking the Tassal Disaster - Tasmania, MacQuarie Harbour, Updated Sept 16, 2017

In a major timeline of fish farm problems in MacQuarie Harbour from the heady halcyon days before the farms to the end of an asphyxiated, sewage-laden harbour, ABC News has gathered together a long list of stories over the years, detailing the problems in the industry, mostly from Tassal.


Do go to the site and scroll down the stories. This is more than 30 years of a disaster slowly building. This is the way fish farms work: they start out okay, but as the sea gets polluted, the problems start happening and keep getting worse until fish die (not to mention the wild fish).

Even after 30 years, the EPA, has approved Tassal using, get this, a tarp under the pen to collect sewage, not a closed container, not on land. There isn't much point putting a napkin under a feedlot.

Here are a few links, of the 30 years of articles on the environmental damage in MacQuarie Harbour on the site:

June 30, 1986: Tasmania's first Atlantic salmon harvest: Noraqua, a Norwegian company operating with the State Government, harvests 55 tonnes of Atlantic salmon from its Dover sea farm.

Feb 5, 2003: Tassal buys into Macquarie Harbour: Tassal, which operated farms in southern Tasmania, went bankrupt in mid-2002 owing about $30 million. The receiver charged with sorting out the mess was Mark Ryan from audit firm KordaMentha.He convinces the banks to stump up the money to buy Tassal's rival Nortas. The move gives Tassal 65 per cent of Australia's salmon market and a stake in Macquarie Harbour.

April 14, 2011: Push to expand begins, warnings dismissed: "Primary industries minister Bryan Green backs the expansion bid as being in line with the industry's aim to double production by 2030.
He rejects concerns the expansion will threaten the World Heritage Area, citing "extensive" work and modelling that was "world's best practice". Does this sound familiar? The government is pro-industry, in a conflict of interest, and the world best science says they are right.

Ron Morrison, who founded Southern Ocean Trout, said:
I did say at the time that if the expansion went, as per the EIS [Environmental Impact Study], up to 29,500 tonnes, that the environment in Macquarie Harbour would probably completely collapse within five to seven years."

Jan 13, 2012: History of Non-compliance. Tassal

May 28, 2012: Expansion gets the green light. "The State Government approves the Macquarie Harbour lease expansion that would triple the state's salmon production"

April 10, 2014: Tassal gets ASC certification 

This shows that ASCs don't mean much. "Tassal's becomes the first salmon producer to receive Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) accreditation"

Some more text: "The ASC website states the certification is a badge of environmental responsibility.

"ASC certified farms deliver a cleaner seabed, cleaner water, healthier fish, preserve the diversity of species and wild population, follow strict feed requirements and ensure social responsibility," it reads."
Does this sound familiar? The WWF's ASCs saying things will be good, but in no time flat, Tassal is out of compliance, if it ever was in compliance. Read on:

Aug 24, 2014: And no oxygen a few months later in August:

"Secret report prompts expansion rethink


Acting on evidence that shows dissolved oxygen (DO) levels were in steep decline, the salmon producers form a working group to investigate.

Fish struggle and even suffocate in low DO water.

The group — made up of salmon farmers, CSIRO, IMAS and government representatives — confirms there has been a "clear downward trend" of DO in deeper water since 2009, corresponding with fish farm expansion."

 Jan 9, 2015: Less than a year after ASC certification, "'Tassal's Franklin lease should be destocked immediately'" because of worms within 4 kms that only show up feeding on feces.

May 21, 2015: So, two months later, Petuna has: "Massive fish kill after storm surge" into Mac Harbour.

This is how the industry goes every place it operates around the world. Growing and endlessly advancing environmental damage.

There are several dozen more articles that chronicle Tassal's problems, the lawsuits, the government endlessly backing fish farms as the problems get worse, as the public begins to demand taking fish farms out of the water. And this is a world heritage designated body of water.

You can read the several dozen more articles on the ABC site. Sobering is a polite word for the ongoing 'disaster', yes, a Trump word, but in this case it is true.

Oh, okay, one more article - on the issue of transparency. Industry always claims to be transparent, but seldom is:

 April 24, 2017: "Tassal claims 'dead zones' improving:

After calling a press conference to announce Tassal's internal testing had shown a "dramatic environmental improvement" in their MH leases, CEO Mark Ryan says the data is not available for public view.
Environment Tasmania's Laura Kelly accuses Tassal of "double-speak".
"We have got Tassal claiming to be transparent but refusing to release their own internal data. The public just wants to know that their World Heritage Area is being protected," Ms Kelly says."
Here is the last item:

June 30, 2017: the EPA approves the tarp under fish farm sewage removal 'system':

Yes, a tarp is a sewage removal 'system'.

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