Tassal, Petuna announce joint venture for Macquarie Harbour

Two of Tasmania’s aquaculture giants, Tassal and Petuna Seafoods, have joined forces to cooperatively manage their marine farms at Macquarie Harbour, in what the companies have described as “a new benchmark in aquaculture biosecurity standards” in the state.

But Environment Tasmania spokeswoman Laura Kelly said the announcement was light on detail and failed to address the problems of fish kills in the harbour, as well as how each company intended to scale down their operations there.

The announcement comes after more than a year of scrutiny of the aquaculture industry in Tasmania, following reports of the potential environmental devastation wrought by overstocking at Macquarie Harbour.

The joint venture will see each company continuing to own its respective leases, as well as its fish and infrastructure.

A joint operational management committee will assist in managing the leases.

Tassal and Petuna say this will deliver better biosecurity and environmental outcomes.

Tassal has attempted to quash concerns that the joint venture could result in staff being moved to other sites in the state, saying its employees will continue to work at the harbour.

Tassal chief executive Mark Ryan said the joint venture was “an important and positive step” towards improving sustainability in the industry.

“All parties interested in salmon farming in Tasmania have been strongly advocating for improvements to biosecurity for some time, and we believe this joint venture is a positive step forward,” he said.

Petuna chief executive Ruben Alvarez said the joint venture was “a landmark step for Tasmania”.

Huon Aquaculture is a commercial rival of Tassal and Petuna and is a notable omission from the newly announced joint venture.

Huon brought legal action against Tassal, Petuna and the Commonwealth in 2017, questioning the decision to expand fish-farming operations at Macquarie Harbour in the wake of sustainability concerns.

Justice Duncan Kerr is yet to hand down his decision.

Ms Kelly said Huon appeared to have been left out of harbour-wide planning.

“[There haven’t] been any ramifications for Tassal, who trashed their Franklin lease, growing the current total biomass for the entire harbour on it for three years in a row,” she said.

Primary Industries Minister Sarah Courtney, meanwhile, said the joint venture was a welcome development.

“[The government is] committed to a sustainable industry that enjoys public support,” Ms Courtney said on Thursday.

This story Tassal, Petuna announce joint venture for Macquarie Harbour first appeared on The Advocate.