Tasmanian Environment Minister clashes with Tassal plan

Environment Minister Elise Archer wants Tassal to look at other options to treat fish waste from its Macquarie Harbour pens.

The salmon company has plans to use a former navy vessel to transport waste from its fish pens, treat it on-board, and release the remaining liquid effluent at a site two kilometres from Hells Gates.

Ms Archer on Tuesday said she was not happy with the plan.

“As the new minister, I want to send a clear message that I’m not comfortable with that and I would urge them to look at alternatives,” she said.

“I think the salmon industry is very strong in Tasmania and we want to create more jobs.

“We need to get the process right which is why I’ve said that I’m not comfortable with what’s happening in Macquarie Harbour at the moment.”

Tassal plans to release about six million litres of effluent in the harbour over six months.

It says the effluent will be discharged on the ebb tide which will allow it to be transferred from the harbour and diluted in the ocean.

A Tassal spokesman on Tuesday said:

“As Tassal has stated from the start, it is simply one option of a number being explored.”

One alternative involves using a sewerage treatment plant, owned by TasWater, to treat the fish waste and discharge it 1.5 kilometres from Strahan.

The other proposal involves discharge two kilometres from Ocean Beach, a known popular tourist and camping spot during the summer.

This proposal would require significant technical assessments to met environmental standards and involve construction work in a protected area, however.

Any proposal would need the tick of approval from the state’s independent Environmental Protection Authority and the federal government.

Environment Tasmania strategy director Laura Kelly said Tassal should simply cut its salmon numbers in Macquarie Harbour to deal with fish waste issues.