They shoot seals, don't they?
- Seals are protected native animals, drawn to fish farms as a food source. To deter them, fish farms are allowed to fire beanbag bullets at seals which habitually approach the farms. There have been reports of seals being blinded and deafened as a result of this.
Fish farms also use what they misleadingly call 'crackers' – underwater explosives – to scare off seals and dolphins. Sudden loud noises underwater are known to cause distress and injury to marine life, especially those which rely on hearing to communicate, and hunt for food.
Maugean skate threatened with extinction
- The Maugean skate is about 75cm long and 50cm wide, it is Tasmania's largest endemic fish. It now lives only in Macquarie Harbour on Tasmania's west coast.
- It hit the news in 2011 when the salmon industry itself admitted that a big expansion it was planning would cause what it called "minimal to moderate" harm to the species.
- A research outcome released by scientists from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, shows that numbers of the Maugean skate dropped by nearly half between 2014 and 2021. What really rang alarms was sampling data indicating that between 2014 and 2021, the proportion of juvenile females in the total population had crashed by more than 82 per cent.
- Salmon farming is identified as a principal cause of the species' plight, whereby fish faeces and uneaten food piled on the harbour floor under and around salmon pens – 2000 tonnes of it each year – lowers dissolved oxygen levels throughout the harbour.
Source: Peter Boyer, The Mercury, 23 May 2023 (viewed online 23 May 2023)
Cruel methods of disease control
- Amoebic gill disease is a common threat, particularly in summer. It deteriorates salmon gills so they don't get enough oxygen. It can be washed off in a process called 'bathing', sometimes every 30-40 days, which involves pumping fish through a tube into a freshwater tank, and then returning them to their sea pen. Bathing is done on board large specialized wellboats, or by towing the pens very slowly to shore-based facilities with access to fresh water.
- Processes like this are very stressful for fish and can result in injuries and mortalities. In 2018, a Tassal farm killed 30,000 fish during a 'bathing' treatment, citing 'human error' as the cause.
- In 2018, over one million fish died from pilchard orthomyxovirus (POMV) in overcrowded fish farms in the fragile waters of Macquarie Harbour.
Cruel production methods
- In other parts of the world (in the USA and Scotland) there is evidence that salmon handlers routinely casually maltreat fish, and that the use of heavy industrial machinery to process fish can cause distress and pain. Both are characteristic of inadequate management, supervision and training.
- In Tasmania, without independent inspections, with no transparency, and with legal repercussions for members of the public entering areas around industrial salmon leases, NOFF is unable to assess fish health, mishandling, stress and pain levels.
- NOFF and animal welfare groups here and internationally are urging greater transparency and a regime of regular monitoring..