Surely fish farms are essential to Tasmania because of the jobs they provide?
Employment is a very important factor across Tasmania, especially in
rural areas such as the Huon Valley and D'Entrecasteaux Channel, and more
recently with the looming extinction of the Maugean skate, in Strahan on
Maquarie harbour. This is a very difficult situation. We respect the
individuals involved, we all want better from industry. In reality fish
farms employ around one percent of the Tasmanian workforce. What's more,
employment is decreasing because of productivity improvements in remote
feeding and monitoring technology, and larger more automated processing
and slaughter ships.
There is related employment in downstream industries such as logistics, transport, wholesaling and retailing, but most if not all of these jobs would remain if the industry were to move entirely on land.
On land salmon production has the greatest potential for jobs,
including development, infrastructure, technology and maintenace, plus
production and retail. A big reason why the industry does not invest in
such significant job creation projects is the near free leasing
arrangements for use of Tassie's public waterways, and a weak regulatory regime. Environmental
responsibility is not a driving factor.
historically had a very diverse fishery with jobs in many areas. Due to
habitat loss and pollution this diversity has been eroded or lost.
Tasmania should not be a one fish town, and we are wearing the cost of
this now. Fortunately the marine environment can recover well
when left alone for a while and we are calling for just that.
The Tasmanian Independent Science Council has described claims of employment and other benefits, by industry mouthpiece Salmon Tasmania, as misleading and overstated, and ignoring social and environmental costs such as environmental impacts, subsidies paid by governments, or loss of public amenities.
Richard Flanagan, in a detailed, well-researched article in The Mercury (10 October 2023) excoriates industry and government claims of large numbers employed as "unverifiable puffery", and provides the real numbers from verifiable sources.
The Australia Institute has analysed industry claims and Bureau of Statistics and Tax Office figures to further confirm the unsupported exaggeration of industry claims - read about it here.
The oceans around Tasmania are warming fast. This has caused mass salmon deaths, most recently in the Tamar River. In other parts of the World the industry is moving on land as the best solution to this threat to its very existence.
Yet the industry persists with increasingly obsolete and unsustainable methods, and the government does nothing to encourage diversification of methods, markets or products, or to prepare for the re-skilling, re-training and redeployment required when the industry fails.
There will be no employment for Tasmanians when ocean warming means the industry cannot operate with its present methods, and its obsession with a single product.