Huon Aquaculture scrutinises Environment Protection Authority for Macquarie Harbour salmon stock plan

One of the state’s three big salmon producers Huon Aquaculture has scrutinised a plan to reduce biomass in Macquarie Harbour, saying it did not do enough. 

The Environment Protection Authority announced on Wednesday that its director, Wes Ford, had released a draft determination to salmon lease holders in Macquarie Harbour revealing a proposal to reduce biomass limits.

This could see the current limit of 21,500 tonnes reduced to 14,000 tonnes. 

But Huon Aquaculture's executive director Frances Bender said the biomass was currently sitting at about 14,000 and so the limit should be reduced further. 

The news came after an assessment of scientific data found dissolved oxygen in the deeper waters could be contributing to the distribution of bacteria and a change to the in-fauna ecology.

Mr Ford said he had received recent scientific findings and reviewed the information on a lease-by-lease basis.

“I have advised the companies of my intention to reduce the biomass in the harbour over the summer and that the biomass for the next two years will be set at a lower limit,” he said. 

But Ms Bender said Huon Aquaculture no longer had confidence in the EPA or the government to regulate Macquarie Harbour.

“This government and this regulator have failed our business, have failed our industry, and failed the people of Tasmania,” she said. 

“In our view, the draft determination will achieve nothing.”

Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the government wanted to ensure the salmon industry was sustainable in its growth.

“There are some 5200 direct and indirect jobs in the salmon industry,” he said.

Tassal chief executive Mark Ryan and Petuna chief executive Mark Porter both welcomed the news. 

“Though we note that the determination is a draft, I want to reassure the local community and our employees that the long-term sustainability of Macquarie Harbour continues to be our first priority,” Mr Ryan said.