Lyle Howard of Salmon Tasmania: Talking Point, The Mercury 15 April 2023
Article published for reference purposes only. Originally published in the Tasmanian Mercury, 15 April 2023,
SALMON INDUSTRY'S INVESTMENTS IN RESEARCH ENSURE IT REMAINS RESILIENT TO CHANGE
TASMANIAN FARMERS ARE LEADING THE WAY WHEN IT COMES TO ADAPTING THEIR PRACTICES TO MEET THE CHANGING CLIMATE, WRITES LYALL HOWARD
When it comes to the changing climate, salmon is ahead of the game.
If you care about the changing climate, you should be supporting Tasmania's salmon industry.
There's no question that adapting to a changing climate will impact every aspect of our lives, including the way our food is farmed and produced. These impacts include changing temperatures, seasonal variance and irregular rainfall.
Farmed salmon is one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable forms of land protein available and our Tasmanian farmers are well ahead of the game when it comes planning for the long-term viability of the industry. As global food sources come under the spotlight, it is worth remembering farmed salmon is not only a healthy source of protein, but it also has a low environmental impact and one of the lowest greenhouse gas profiles of all animal protein sources.
Add to that the strenuous environmental regulations governing salmon farming in Tasmania and farming processes developed by world-leading scientists, and you've got an industry that's built to be resilient against climate and water temperature changes.
Tasmania's salmon industry has spent tens of millions of dollars on research and development programs in preparation for changing climatic conditions. Sea surface temperature tracking is a staple of the salmon industry and has been conducted in Tasmania's southeast, with CSIRO, for several years. This program has been so successful there are plans to extend it across the state to move with changing weather and sea current patterns.
The salmon industry has invested in world-leading biogeochemical modelling that monitors water flows, nutrients and temperatures around the state and has shared the benefits with the broader community, working alongside researchers such as IMAS and CSIRO.
Understanding the characteristics of our changing farming environment is critical to informing our innovation, which includes our fish breeding programs. These programs have resulted in temperature tolerance traits and improved genetics to ensure we are breeding future stocks of strong, healthy and resilient fish.
On an operational level, the development and use of innovative fish pen designs that can withstand more exposed and offshore locations and technical improvements that help to circulate cooler bottom waters during times of water temperature fluctuation work to build further resilience into our operations.
Through continual research and development, the industry has developed sophisticated data and real-time forecasting management tools to prepare for changes in weather, responding with modifications to diets and different husbandry practices.
Our real-time environmental monitoring and water quality programs are all aligned to adapting to changing weather patterns and help us to understand the systems that support the production of the world renowned and high-quality product that we farm here in Tasmania.
Salmon farming is one of the fastest growing food production sectors globally and utilises some of the most understood and advanced farming methods in the world.
The salmon industry is critical to ensuring food security and sustainable food production to feed the growing global population in a responsible, ethical and collaborative way, both now and into the future.
Lyall Howard is the independent chair of Salmon Tasmania